Talmud

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+ 299 The Talmud: "Whoever saves one life, saves the whole world."


+ 340 On 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' it takes almost a year to get 10 shows written. It always reminds me of my old yeshiva days, where you used to sit over a piece of Talmud and analyze everything that was going on. David Steinberg


+ 263 During the deepest darkest night, act as if morning has already come. The Talmud


+ 371 The scientific organization and comprehensive exposition in accessible form of the Talmud has a twofold importance for us Jews. It is important in the first place that the high cultural values of the Talmud should not be lost to modern minds among the Jewish people nor to science, but should operate further as a living force. In the second place, The Talmud must be made an open book to the world, in order to cut the ground from under certain malevolent attacks, of anti-Semitic origin, which borrow countenance from the obscurity and inaccessibility of certain passages in the Talmud. Albert Einstein


+ 326 As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. Albert Einstein


+ 298 In Hebrew, the word shmonah (eight) has the same exact letters as hashemen (the oil), and neshama (soul). The number eight is also associated with the revelation of Mashiach – the Messiah. This is reflected in the Talmud which states, “the harp of the era of Mashiach will be of eight strands.”


+ 281 R. Huni, in the name of R. Ide and R. Joshua, said that this man is the King of Messiah of Whom it is said, Psalm 2:7, “This day have I begotten Thee.” – Talmud Bab


+ 363 Rabbi Eliezer would say: The honor of your fellow should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easy to anger. Repent one day before your death. Asked his disciples: Does a man know on which day he will die? Said he to them: So being the case, he should repent today, for perhaps tomorrow he will die; hence, all his days are passed in a state of repentance. Indeed, so said Solomon in his wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:8): 'At all times, your clothes should be white, and oil should not lack from your head'" (Talmud, Shabbat 153a). Pirkei Avot 2:10


+ 277 He would also say: Five years is the age for the study of Scripture. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot. Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength, Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for sagacity. Seventy, for elderliness. Eighty, for power. Ninety, to stoop. A hundred-year-old is as one who has died and passed away and has been negated from the world. Pirkei Avot 5:22


+ 252 Gam zu l'tova. This too is for the good. Nachum Ish Gamzu, Talmud, Taanit, 21a


+ 254 “One man’s candle is light for many” – Talmud on Shabbat


+ 189 Eternity means Jerusalem. Talmud, Tractate Berachot


+ 235 Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will be meritorious and will see its rejoicing and all who do not mourn for Jerusalem will not see it's rejoicing. Talmud, Taanit 30b


+ 257 Each and every acacia tree that the non-Jews removed from Jerusalem, will be restored to it by the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the future. Talmud, Rosh Hashana 23a


+ 326 Jerusalem was only destroyed because its inhabitants desecrated the Shabbat, they refrained from reciting the Morning and Evening Shema, the children in the Torah day schools wasted their learning time, because they were not shame faced (to sin), because they made the minors equal to the adults, because one did not rebuke another, because they embarrassed Torah Scholars. Talmud, Shabbat 119b


+ 223 Jerusalem does not become impure through touching; Jerusalem will not be split by the tribes. Talmud, Yoma 12a


+ 208 There are three gates to Gehinam (purgatory) — one of them is in Jerusalem. Talmud, Eruvin 19a


+ 237 Even during the time of Jerusalem's stumbling, men of faith did not cease from [living] there. Talmud, Shabbat 119b


+ 222 "Eternity" — this refers to Jerusalem. Talmud, Berachot 58a


+ 261 Whoever did not see Jerusalem in its days of glory, never saw a beautiful city in their life. Talmud, Succah 51b


+ 244 Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem. Talmud, Kiddushin 49b


+ 241 Of the 10 measures of beauty that God hath bestowed upon the world, nine of these fall to the lot of Jerusalem. The Talmud


+ 119 Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. The Talmud


+ 129 The highest form of wisdom is kindness. The Talmud


+ 143 The center of the world is exactly where you stand. The Talmud


+ 141 “Who is wise? The one who learns from all people…
“Who is mighty? The one who subdues the evil inclination…
“Who is rich? The who who rejoices in his portion….
“Who is honored? The one who honors other human beings…”
The Talmud - Avot - Ben Zoma


+ 117 Life is for love, this is the message of the Torah, the essence of life is love. For this we are called to build a world of connection through our Torah and Mitzvot. Love is the entire Torah. Rebbe Elazar Ben Azarya (Talmudic Sage)


+ 122 Torah Learning for the Creative Individual

Outstanding people who are involved in Torah and who have a talent and inner predilection for ethical and poetic studies, for high thoughts and exalted wisdom, may not suppress or nullify that great desire.

They must broaden it and make it great. They must every day engage in Torah learning that is broad and that transmits knowledge, wisdom and ability.

Such people must dedicate most of their talent to such learning. They should not worry that this dedication may force them to curtail their practical Torah learning, leading them to satisfy themselves with learning that is easy, short and straight, allowing them to simply know the halachah and its reasoning clearly, and allowing them to simply clarify everything in its time with the calm learning of breadth of knowledge in (a) halachah, (b) the basic Talmud discussions and (c) the various approaches of the sages.

This will not keep them from being sharp. True Torah sharpness is naturally born of this learning [mentioned above] of itself, and appears when it is needed.

One does not need to work hard and spend a great deal of time on pilpul. As it is, most pilpul is intended for those [who, not being poetic,] turn to it to fulfill the thirst of their soul for the breadth of Torah and powerful intellectual freedom.

A little pilpul is always good, even for those who are mostly involved in very spiritual matters; but the basic concern of these sensitive souls must be “to open the eyes of the blind; to bring the prisoner out of the jail; to take the man sitting in darkness out of his cell” (Is. 42:7).

Eder Hay’kar, p. 140


+ 135 Torah Scholars Whose Learning Is Their Occupation

Torah scholars whose learning is their occupation must see to it that their path lies correctly before them and that their goal is clear, so that their spirit may be strong and their mind quiet, calm and settled.

How great is the exalted principle, “You are not required to finish, yet neither are you absolved of the work.” Therefore, there is not such a great need to visualize self-encouragement in your Torah-learning service that involves embracing the totality of its knowledge.

This can calm your heart, so that you may learn every topic with a confident and quiet spirit, undisturbed by other things or by worrying in general about attaining total knowledge, which is impossible. Instead, you find your own personal service acceptable.

Nevertheless, you must pave a path for yourself upon which you can still see the complete circumference of the Torah.

In ideology, you must gain clarity about your purpose and the purpose of your desire in your Torah-learning service of God. Also, in practical learning, you must yearn to encompass and incorporate the complete sum of the entire practical teachings that are in the Torah’s practical aspect—as far as you can.

People customarily say that the Torah has no end. In regard to its practical aspect, that is true only within certain parameters—for really, it is possible, when a person goes on a straight path, to attain a total and clear embrace of the entire practical aspect of the Torah.

Those who are great need no explanation for this. But those of middle rank need help, after they arrive at the measure of competent understanding of the depth of halachah, in knowing the form of halachah in a straight and proper way, [which they gain] by serving Torah scholars in correct measure, until they know how to study any Talmudic discussion properly, and how to question and answer in accordance with the path of Torah in the give and take of halachah. Then their main effort must be, first and foremost, to encompass all the halachos of the Rif in their simple meaning, with competent breadth of knowledge. The attainment of this is made much easier by a calm steadfastness.

This service is very sweet in itself, as well as a pleasurable vision that is close to the goal of total encompassing , knowing the complete sum of all the halachos—according to how very close [their study is] to their source in the Talmud in general. Only through the gathering of all the details will the great beauty of the glorious building of the entire practical Torah stand before your eyes.

When you proceed in this fashion every day, continuously, you will add study-times dedicated to an overall mastery of the written Torah, and you will spend set aside times every day for acquiring the wisdom of the aggadah, midrash, ethical works, philosophy and Kabbalah, in proper proportion, and a breadth of time for independent thought, in order to broaden good sensibilities, as well as your set time for learning Talmud quickly every day, and as well as occasional times for clarifying the depth of halachah broadly and engaging in sharp analysis of various topics, in order to broaden your mind and study in-depth, which is crucial for all those who seek the Torah.

When you acquire an encompassing expertise in the halachos of the Rif, there will be born within you the desire to know the halachos clearly. You will learn a great deal of Talmud (Babylonian and Jerusalem), Toseftas and all the words of the Sages, out of an inner recognition of the need for breadth and clarity. The essence of your service must always be in broad learning of the foundations of the halachos and the essentials of the words of Torah, until the perfection of knowledge in all the areas and details will make your awareness whole in all other matters that a person needs. And at that point, people will be inspired by your advice and counsel.

When you proceed in this way, you will also be able to set fixed times for acquiring the wisdom and knowledge that are useful to a person in this world, which broaden the circumference of your knowledge and give you the courage to face the necessities of life. Then you will be pleasing to others and you will find grace in the eyes of God and man.

Orot Hatorah 9:3


+ 169 Dark Alleys Shine

Once we learn much hidden Torah, whatever we understand and learn from the revealed Torah shines with a precious light.

Then the hidden Torah, with its special quality, appears in all those topics that the revealed Torah discusses.

This is found in the Jerusalem Talmud: since its authors were pious, their Torah was “blessed.” In contrast, the words of the Babylonian Talmud are merely “kept.” It seems that the Jerusalem Talmud deals with more elevated, pious people. Because of them, the Torah grows and becomes glorious. This is due to the appearance of attainments of holiness, starting from a small beginning and developing into great and powerful rivers. These people attain the light of Torah by prayer and deep study, as well as before and after learning. Such people constitute the body of Torah and the soul of Torah.

In this regard, there is a difference between the air of the land of Israel (where the holy spirit can flow upon the content of Jewish law) and elsewhere (where the holy spirit can spread openly only in aggadah, whereas Jewish law is judged by human intellect).

“‘In the dark places, You have placed me’ (Eichah 3:6)—this is the Babylonian Talmud” (Sanhedrin 24a). But from the midst of darkness, great light will sprout: “The nation that walks in darkness has seen a great light, those who dwell in a land of the shadow of death—light has shone upon them” (Is. 9:1). [“These are masters of the Talmud, who have seen great light, for the Holy One, blessed be He, illumines their eyes with what is forbidden and allowed, what is ritually unclean and clean” (Midrash Tanchuma Noach).]

In this way, these people bring down to the lowly avenues of life the illumination of God’s supernal Presence. In this way, they cause multitudinous dark alleys to shine. This aids numbers of those who are distant come, approach and connect to the supernal light of the glow of Torah in its might, the Torah of the land of Israel: “‘The gold of that land is good’ (Bereishis 2:12)—there is no Torah like the Torah of the land of Israel, and no wisdom like the wisdom of the land of Israel” (Bereishis Rabbah 16).

Orot Hatorah 13:1


+ 142 The Prayerbook and the Villager

by Shai Agnon

Shai Agnon (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) told:

One time, a number of us—myself, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Eliezer Meir Lifshitz, Rabbi Simchah Asaf, Binyamin and others—entered the presence of the great Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook and discussed the problems of the generation and how to rectify it.

One of the group made a speech in praise of the Torah, which ended by criticizing the many additional laws enacted by the rabbis in every generation. Rabbi Nachman rose in pain, and appeared angry. But he immediately overcame his anger, as was his holy way, and answered quietly: Hearing this has brought to mind a story.

There was once a great rabbi who happened to pass through a village. Night fell, and he had to stay there overnight. He asked the villager at whose house he was staying for a volume of the Talmud, but the villager didn’t have one. He asked for a mishnah—the villager didn’t have. He asked for an Ein Yaakov—the villager didn’t have that either.

Finally, he asked the villager, “Do you have a prayerbook?” The villager brought him an old prayerbook, which contained a commentary that the rabbi read the entire night, and which he enjoyed greatly.

The next day, the rabbi offered to pay a good price for the prayerbook, but the villager refused. The rabbi persisted: “I’ll trade it for a new prayerbook with a fine binding.” But the villager still refused.

“Why?” asked the rabbi.

The villager replied, “Rabbi, every morning when I get up I like to drink something hot, and I warm up the kettle. To make the fire catch quickly, I light a piece of paper and put it under the tinder. Since I don’t have much paper in the house, I rip a page out of the prayerbook and light that. And also, every time I want to smoke my pipe, I rip a page out of the prayerbook to light it.

“I am already an old man, but because there is so much commentary, I still haven’t come to the prayers. All the pages I’ve ripped out really aren’t the prayerbook.”

Malachim Kivnei Adam, pp. 363-65


+ 114 Sustaining the World

by Avraham Shoar

In his youth, the writer, Avraham Shoar, was the chavruta (study partner) of Rav Kook in the beis medrash of Lutzin. He tells that young Avraham Yitzchak’s diligence was extraordinary. If a short amount of time passed without learning Torah, he felt real anguish: a actual physical pain:

One day (tells Avraham Shoar), he told me: “I have decided that two nights a week, we should learn mishmar (extended learning). Two nights a week, let us learn until dawn.”

I remember one such mishmar night, typical of the character of this extraordinary man. We were learning Chulin from the Talmud together. We were engaged in halachic dispute. I stood my ground, and we argued at length until we at last came to a shared understanding.

It was late. We were learning at the bimah. Around us was silence. In the adjoining dormitory, all the students were already asleep. Before us, burning above the holy ark, was the ner tamid—the eternal light. And we took a short rest from our toil and sat and conversed.

He said to me in a secretive voice: “Do you know, perhaps just the two of us are now sustaining the entire world. Perhaps the Holy One, blessed be He, is judging the world right now. And mankind’s sins are being considered, and they outweigh the good.

“Now the angel Michael, the one defender out of a thousand, picks up the words of our Torah learning and places them on the scale, and our words of Torah help outweigh the other side. If so, we have merited to sustain the entire world. And we are still just children. This is the first year that I am wearing tefillin, and as for you, you are not even bar mitzvah.”

As he spoke, I was lifted to the highest worlds. I could see, almost with my own eyes, the heavenly host: the fiery scale, the angels and cherubim. They were weighing the acts of humanity, and behold, they placed upon the scale the page of Chulin that we were learning, with the commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot and the Maharsha. And this page gave merit to the entire world.”

As I sat, submerged in my visions, Avraham Yitzchak’s voice continued. I heard him say with great simplicity: “A day will come when and I will be great in Torah. And then...” He touched me so that I would turn to him, and I saw his face burning, his eyes brilliant and sparkling like fiery coals set in milk. And he whispered: “I will go to the land of Israel, to the holy city of Jerusalem, and I will found a yeshiva there, like Kerem Beyavneh. And students from all over the world will gather there, and ‘from Jerusalem will come forth Torah.’”

These were the youthful dreams of Rav Kook.

These were his desires and yearnings when he had just become bar mitzvah.

Malachim Kivnei Adam, pp. 4-5