Chanuka meet Shevuous 15

Today’s daf yomi, Shavous 15 eerily has many thematic references or allusions to Chaunka.  The daf refers to a piece of the Mishna which describes the method for expanding or adding to the Temple area or the precincts of Jerusalem. The Mishna on 14 describes a procession of kings, prophets, judges, and the people of Israel carrying large of loaves of a korban Todah and singing.  Singing?

The daf on 15 explains the significance of the loaves of bread but more interesting describes the singing and the of course mentions the “mizmor shir chanukas habayis the david” -the thing we say every day and two times on Chanuka. The singing also references portions said on Chanuka before lighting the Menora.

Singing is connected to Chanuka. We sing the ubiquitous Maoz Tzur which is the anthem for Chanuka and more recognized than the blessings themselves.  In Maoz Tzur there are two references to song “Bshir Mizmor Chunkas Hamizbeach” (with song of establishing the altar) and   Yima Shomona (the eight days are fixed as song and joy”)

What does  Chanuka and singing have in common? We sing when we are happy and joyous.  We sing at miracles.  Chanuka is about miracles, it is about happiness and joy. Real joy, not the commercial joy we are surrounded with around this time of year.  The same way that the Temple is expanded by joy, so we are expanded with singing and joy.


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An Original ShikkerDovid Thought on Vayashev

In Vayashev, we are told that Jacob wants to live in peace in his old age after dealing with Lavan.  This is immediately juxtaposed to the youthfulness of Joseph. Rashi tells us Joseph  did teenage things like fix his hair. The Shikkerdovid thinks the Torah is setting us up for a disconnect.  Here it is.   The Torah tells us that Joseph “brings” to his father a bad report about his brothers. What does Jacob do? He takes him to Barneys and buys him a coat. No discussion about the report. Just a new coat.   No discussion is recorded between Jacob and Joseph.  No guidance.

Joseph then has dreams about sun and stars. To the Shikkerdovid this is a young man wondering about the universe, thinking about the cosmos and all mysteries of the world.  However, at this point,  Joseph does no ask Jacob about these mysteries and questions, he goes to tells the brothers.

The Shikkerdovid has a question; Why did he go to Jacob the first time with the bad report, but to the brothers the second time with dreams. ?

The Shikkerdovid has an answer. The first time he went to Jacob with an issue, Jacob did not really deal with him. Jacob took Joseph to Barneys and bought him a coat. Jacob did not validate   When it comes to the dreams, Joseph does not go to his father for guidance, because he got no guidance the first time. He goes to his brothers. Big mistake. We all know how that ends.

The Shikkerdovid would like to learn a lesson. When your kids come to you with their stupid and idiot questions, or wants to babble about nonsense-listen to them. Validate their silliness. Question them. Show them you are concerned.  Maybe if Jacob had listened the first time, there would have been no enmity between the brothers when Joseph had the dreams.   Maybe things would be much different if Jacob had listened to his kid.

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Kilayim : Makkot 21 and Catch 22

Today’s daf Makkot 21 presents an interesting idea of Kilayim. Kilayijm  is the prohibition of planting with mixed plants and seeds.    In today’s daf  Rabbi Akiva holds that one transgresses the prohibition of “kilayim” when one has mixed plants growing on his field even if they are not purposefully planted. This means that according to Rabbi Akiva, one is under an obligation to actively inspect one’s field to ensure that this “kilayim” is not present. Even if you did not plant it, just having it is a problem according to Rabbi Akiva.

This is reminiscent of the famous book Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. In Catch 22, there is a character named Major Major.  He is also a Maj0r in the army.  In his pre -war job,  Major Major is an Iowa corn farmer.  Heller describes that as an Iowa corn farmer the government pays Major Major  not to grow corn. Therefore, Heller describes how Major Major “Would wake up at the crack of noon to ensure that no corn was growing on his farm.  The more money the government paid him, the more corn he would not grow.”

This satirical idea touches us because it evokes an image of how someone who is properly incentivized, ie not grow corn and get paid,  will be diligent.   Major Major’s diligence in not growing corn to obtain government grants should inspire us as well.  The Torah admonition regarding Kilayim is not just to grow it, but to ensure it is not slowly growing according to R. Akiva.

The Shikkerdovid would like to learn something from this.  It is often easy to look the other way with small things. It is easy to not “see the Kilayim”. It is easy to miss things and think we are getting away with it.  It is difficult to pro actively find the imperfections, the small weeds which sprout up in our existence. Our small imperfections, or the small deeds that are easy to overlook.  However, like Major Major who was paid not to grow corn, the reward for being careful with the little things, can be significant.

Maybe this lesson should have been on Makkot 22. LOL.

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My Favorite Day of the Year -15th of Av and Sanhedrin 22

Today is the most important day of the year. It reminds us that before there can be Bat Mitzva’s, little league and fond memories, a man must marry a woman. Unfortunately, that seems to be harder every year.   However, the 15th of Av is the day we remember that the Talmud in tractate Taanis recalls how the young women would borrow dresses and run in the fields and entice men to marry them.

Today’s daf eerily makes mention of the Heavenly voice which proclaims that a man is destined to marry a certain woman.    Why is this so important. ? The answer is that there is someone for everyone. Hashem made the match.  It is up to us to make sure the people come together. The work is for each and every person to always think of people and try to match them.

Let us pair up with Hashem in this heavenly work.

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Shabbat Nachamu and Sanhedin 19

This Shabbat is the famous Haftorah known as Nachamu. The prophet says, “Be Comforted Be Comforted My Nation, speak to the heart of Jerusalem and say the exile is completed  and sins forgiven by Gd.  ”

Interesting  the Daf Yomi of the last few days, Sanhedrin 18-19 speak of comforting a Cohen Gadol when he is in mourning.  The Mishna also says when a Cohen is comforted by others, the people visiting say  “We are your atonement” and he says : “Be blessed by heaven”

Coincidence in the theme of comforting?  This is the heart and soul  of Judasim.  Hashem through his prophet comforts us.  Tell us things will improve.  Our work is to mimic the paradigm Hashem show us.  He comforts us and we comfort each other.

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Sanhedrin 9: Hashem’s Yardstick

Sanhedrin 8-9 continues the debate between Rabbi Meyer and the Rabbis about whether accusing one’s wife of infidelity (dont know a nicer way of saying it) needs a court of judges of 3 or 23.

The debate scrolls down and comes to a fascinating statement.  Normally, in order to be held responsible  for doing a sin one must receive “warning” or “hasroah”. However, one opinion is that if  the person is a “Chaver” or learned, the requirement of a warning is dispensed with.

Strange? Is not  the law equal to all. ?  The Shikkerdovid would like to use this as proof that we are all held to different standards: Our own capacity.  Only Hashem knows what we are truly capable of.  We cannot say, “most  people do this or that so I will.” We must commit ourselves to be the best and strive in all things. Only Hashem knows what we are capable of and he judges each of us on our own ability.

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Parshas Masei and Sanhedrin 5

There are no coincidences. Today’s daf and this week’s parsha intersect in a beautiful thought.

Let us start with the Parsha Maasei. In Chapter 33, sentence 29 the pasuk tells us the Israel traveled from to Beit Hashimus until Avil Hashitem by the plains of Moav. Rashi says: Here it teaches us that the camp of Israel was 12 mil, as stated by Rabba Bar Chana in Eruvin.

Turn now to today’s daf of Sanedrin 5 where authorization to judge or gives ruling is discussed. Rabbah Bar Channa is mentioned stating that he had authorization to rule as given by the head of the Jews in exile (Rash Galusa) and the Nasi in Eretz Yisrael.

What is the connection: Authority. Israel only had authority to move when directed by Hashem.  As Rashi says, they were  a unified camp of 12 mil.

Judges gave ruling when they were empowered by authority either the Nasi in Israel or the Rash Galusa in Bavel as Sanhedrin tells us.

We live in a world where we must submit to authority. The authority by Hashem or to people that Hashem gives authority -like the rabbis. It is not a popular thought. It is hard to recognize and swallow the will of a higher authority. But to see the hand of Gd in the world, is to subordinate our will to the higher authority.

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