Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 38b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 38b

Dec 7, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Last time, we mentioned that our Sages inherited prohibitions on a number of activities that are permitted by the Torah, but not in consonance with the spirit of Shabbat. Our Sages knew that prohibiting all everyday activities on Shabbat would not only be impossible, but also make Shabbat overly burdensome. Shabbat is a day of sanctified rest as an offering to Heaven, but it is also a day of earthly pleasures. As a result, the Sages limited these protective “Rabbinic prohibitions” on Shabbat to a small number of categories.

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 150a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 150a

Nov 29, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

In the above passage we move beyond the thirty-nine primary forbidden categories of labor. Each of those labors, now quite familiar to you from Mishnah Shabbat 7:2, was termed melakhah and is considered by our Sages to be prohibited by Torah. Here we introduce a new category: shevut. This is labor permitted by Torah but prohibited by Rabbinic tradition. 

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Babylonian Talmud Bava Kamma 2a

Babylonian Talmud Bava Kamma 2a

Nov 21, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Regarding Shabbat, we learned: “The primary prohibited acts (avot melakhah) are forty less one” (Mishnah Shabbat 7:2). “Primary prohibited acts” implies that there must be secondary prohibited acts (toldot). The secondary acts are the same as [the primary ones]; there is no difference between a primary and a secondary [prohibited act] . . .

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Mishnah Shabbat 7:2

Mishnah Shabbat 7:2

Nov 15, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

We have already seen part of the list of thirty-nine forbidden labors of Shabbat contained here in Mishnah Shabbat 7:2. Here is the list in full. At first it looks as if the list is just a compendium of labors commonly performed in the ancient world. On closer inspection, we see that the list falls nicely into four categories of labor. We have already seen that the Talmud (Shabbat 74b) refers to the first of these groupings as sidura d’pat, the order of making bread. We see here that the mishnah also views the labors leading up to the production of clothing (group two), those used in producing scrolls (group three), and those needed to construct shelter (group four), as prohibited by Torah.

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 3a, 107a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 3a, 107a

Nov 8, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

We are able to understand clearly wrong acts and clearly right acts with ease. Robbing the local grocery is readily categorized as bad behavior in our minds. Helping a less able person across the street is just as readily categorized as good behavior. Many acts, however, fall into a gray area. Is stealing to feed one’s family a bad act? What about exceeding the speed limit to arrive on time at a child’s piano recital or soccer game? There are many acts we can think of that we would describe as technically forbidden, but mitigated by the circumstances.

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Mishnah Shabbat 7:2

Mishnah Shabbat 7:2

Nov 1, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

These three sources provide us with a window into the spiritual and aesthetic experience that the observance of Shabbat is supposed to create. 

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Babylonian Talmud Hulin 5a

Babylonian Talmud Hulin 5a

Oct 20, 2008 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

These two talmudic texts are really two sides of the same coin. Shabbat is often called yesod ha-emuna (the foundation of our faith). The Bible repeatedly refers to it as an eternal sign of the covenant between God and the people Israel, weekly proclaiming both the Divine authorship of all Creation and the exodus from Egypt. One can readily understand the Jerusalem Talmud tractate Nedarim’s claim that Scripture values Shabbat as much as all the other mitzvot combined.

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Evolution of Torah: France

Evolution of Torah: France

By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Podcast or Radio Program

Establishing Torah Culture (Season 2, Episode 3) This episode focuses on Rashi (1040 – 1105, Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac) and his intellectual (and genetic) heirs. We start by exploring the significant differences between French rabbinic culture and that of North Africa and Muslim Spain. As opposed to summarizing the law as presented in the Talmud […]

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Evolution of Torah: Journeys in Torah Study

Evolution of Torah: Journeys in Torah Study

By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Podcast or Radio Program

Establishing Torah Culture (Season 2, Episode 1) How did geographic diversity and separation impact rabbinic culture? In the season opener, we begin with the story of the four captives, the story that ended season one. This narrative offers an example of how rabbinic learning spread. We introduce the challenges and opportunities that faced Jewish communities […]

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Evolution of Torah

Evolution of Torah

By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Podcast or Radio Program

This JTS Podcast explores the ways in which Jewish legal culture changed after the destruction of the Second Temple with Rabbi Mordecai Schwartz. A History of Rabbinic Literature Season 1 An introduction to the first 1000 years of rabbinic literature in five episodes Establishing Rabbinic Culture Season 2 A six-episode series focused on the distinct […]

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