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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Talmud

Mesechet Gittin: Annulling Loans During Shmita

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 23, 2011

The Talmud (Gittin 37b) quotes a mishna in Shivi’it (10:8) that states that when a person attempts to return a debt during Shmita, the creditor should say to him “I annul it.”  But if the debtor says, “Nevertheless, I wish to return it,” then the creditor should accept the payment. …

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Using Ma’aser Money for Other Mitzvah Obligations

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 3, 2011

Can I use my ma’aser kesafim, tithes from my income, towards pre-existing mitzvah or tzedakah obligations, such as my synagogue dues, my children’s day school tuition, or pledges to charity that I have already made?  A mishna from Menachot touches on an answer to this question.   In the mishna in Menachot 81a, we learn that a korban todah cannot be purchased from ma’aser sheni money. …

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Mesechet Menachot: Pigs and Greek Wisdom

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 27, 2011

The sixth chapter of Menachot is devoted to the topic of the bringing of the omer.   In the middle of all the halakhic discussions of this chapter, a fascinating story is told about how, one time, they needed to bring the omer from wheat that grew far away from Jerusalem: Our Rabbis taught: When the Kings of the Hasmonean house fought one another, Hyrcanus was outside and Aristobulus within [the city wall].…

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Mesechet Menachot: The Taxonomy of the Gemara’s Grains

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 20, 2011

The Mishna of Menachot 70a lists the five species of grain.  These species are of central importance in many halakhot.  Only bread made from these species of grains is considered bread, and gets the brakha of hamotzi.  Only matzah made from these grains is considered matzah, and can be used on the seder night.  …

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Mesechet Menachot: Chametz and Fertility

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 13, 2011

Mesechet Menachot (53) addressed the prohibition to make menachot out of chametz.  Menachot, grain sacrifices, are usually made as matzah, unleavened bread.  There are some, notably the shetei ha’lechem, the two loaves that are brought on Shavuot, which are chametz.  Nevertheless, such chametz offerings are never burned on the altar, and the Torah explicitly prohibits this: “For all leaven and all honey you shall not offer up as a burnt offering to God” (Vayikra 3:11).…

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“You Shall Be Holy” – Bringing the Holiness of the Temple into our Lives

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 29, 2011

The Gemara in Menachot discusses at length and over many pages the specific details relating to the laws of tzitzit.   At the end of these discussions, the Gemara ends with a braitta which that declares that “all are obligated in the mitzvah of tzitzit: Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites; converts, women and slaves.” …

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Magical Mezuzahs? Not so Much

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 14, 2011

In Masechet Menachot, there is a very rich section that deals with the laws of tefillin and mezuzah.   A particular theme of interest, especially in the context of the korban Pesach, is that of the mezuzah as an object that protects the house.  …

Rabbeinu Tam’s Two Sunsets: When is it Nighttime?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 1, 2011

One of the key Tosafots in Shas (Menachot 20b, s.v., ini) discusses the position of Rabbeinu Tam that there are two sunsets – the visible one, and then one occurring almost an hour later, when the sun – according to Rabbinic cosmology – exists the tunnel of the opaque dome of the rakiya, sky or firmament, and begins to travel above the rakiya from West to East so it can rise again the next morning. …

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Mesechet Zevachim: Intent and Sacrifices

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 18, 2011

One of the major themes of Zevachim – and the one that opens mesekhet Menachot as well- is that of intent.  The concepts of shelo li’shma, intending the wrong sacrifice, and pigul, intending to eat it at the wrong time, factor very heavily throughout the mesekhet. …

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Mesechet Zevachim: “Sacrifices” Outside the Temple

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 8, 2011

The last two chapters of Zevachim, 13 and 14, deal with the prohibition of bringing sacrifices outside of the Temple, even if they are brought to God. The first mishna in the beginning of the 14th perek (112a), opens with two exceptions: the seir ha’ mishtalayach, the goat sent over the cliff on Yom Kippur, and the parah Adumah, the red heifer which was slaughtered and burned outside the Temple, and whose ashes were used to make the mei chatat, the ritual water that would purify those who had become tamei due to contact with a corpse.…

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Mesechet Zevachim: Torah in the Bathroom

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 25, 2011

The Gemara Zevachim (102b) ends its discussion of the Kohanim who are not entitled to a portion of the daily sacrifices with an analysis of R. Elazar ben R. Shimon.   We had learned that a Kohen who was tamei, and thus not able to do the avoda that day (or, according to another formulation, not able to eat the korbanot that day), was not entitled to a portion of the korbanot that evening. …

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Zevachim and Personal and Communal Obligations

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 18, 2011

The end of Zevachim addresses the issue of personal versus collective responsibility.  On 97b, the Gemara asks why a Kohen cannot eat the meat of a sacrifice that has absorbed the juices of an invalid sacrifice.  While it is prohibited to eat an invalid sacrifice, i.e.,…