Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 157b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 157b

Oct 9, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Our Sages forbade us to take measurements on Shabbat. In their day, as in ours, measurements were most often associated with commerce. They strove to create a day free from the workaday stresses of acquisition. We see this sensitivity in this prohibition, as in the many prohibitions and commandments we have seen throughout the year. As we began the year, I hoped to convey that Shabbat is first and foremost a spiritual discipline. 

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 113a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 113a

Oct 2, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Some of our Sages felt that objects which could not be used on Shabbat in any permitted way should be utterly outlawed for the entire twenty-five-hour period of Shabbat. This prohibition, termed by the Talmud, Issur Tilltul (the prohibition on moving an object), eventually came to be known as muktzeh(things placed to the side). If an object has no use on Shabbat, it is in this category and, generally, may not be picked up and moved to another location on Shabbat.

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 42a–b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 42a–b

Sep 23, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Cooking is forbidden on Shabbat. This is already clear in the Torah. In Exodus 16:23, Moses commands the Israelites to bake their manna before Shabbat begins. But what are the limits of cooking? Does adding spice to a completed dish constitute cooking? When is the cooking process considered to be complete? 

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 35b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 35b

Sep 18, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

When does Shabbat begin? When does it end? What separates the mundane time of the week from the transcendent time of Shabbat? The simple answer is that Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. Since Genesis 1 places the night before the morning (“And there was evening, and there was morning . . . “), Shabbat begins at nightfall on Friday. But how do we define nightfall? When the sun sets? When it gets dark? When the stars come out? 

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 34a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 34a

Aug 29, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Certain things must be done before Shabbat begins. Our mishnah gives a checklist of three things about which the head of a family must inquire as Shabbat begins. Have the necessary tithes been taken from the produce? Has the boundary delineating the extent of private space, the eruv, been properly established? Have the Shabbat lights been lit?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 30a-b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 30a-b

Aug 22, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

We are called upon to live a life of mitzvot, not die deaths in our attempt to fulfill God’s commandments. A dangerously sick person requires our care and we are commanded to desecrate Shabbat to fully see to his or her care. Our source puts forward a question about this with regard to a light that is preventing a sick person from sleeping. Are we allowed to desecrate Shabbat by extinguishing the flame and thereby help make rest and recovery possible?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 12a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 12a

Aug 15, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

We do not make personal petitions on Shabbat, leaving them for our weekday prayers. What then do we do when visiting the sick on Shabbat? During the week, prayer for healing is an element of our visit, but during Shabbat we should transcend our human needs so that we may gain a taste of the world to come. Nonetheless, we still remain in possession of our bodies on Shabbat and may still fall ill. Illness may sometimes inspire us to spiritual growth, but on the whole, most of us would say that we do not desire suffering or its rewards. So how do we approach the tension between the desire to overcome the physical on Shabbat and remain cognizant of the need for physical healing?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 25b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 25b

Aug 8, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

How do we transcend the physical on Shabbat? Our physical existence is temporary, and our bodies are eventually subject to the most horrendous filth, decrepitude, and rot. Shabbat promises a vision of the world to come, in which we imagine our physical decline halted and even reversed. We light Shabbat lamps to inaugurate this period, and light illumines our spirits as well as our homes. But what about our bodies? How do we prepare our all too imperfect flesh for the holy Sabbath?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 24a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 24a

Aug 1, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Our liturgy is a reflection of our values. On Shabbat, festivals, and Rosh Hodesh (the new moon), we read publicly from the Torah to connect our souls more deeply with God, divine wisdom, and the mitzvot. We also read from the Torah on Mondays and Thursdays so that we never go more than three days without Torah. However, on Shabbat and festivals we read a much larger passage than on Rosh Hodesh. Why? 

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 22a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 22a

Jul 25, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Abbaye (a mid-fourth-century Sage from Babylonia) reports that his teacher and adoptive father, Rabba bar Nachmani, usually followed the rulings of the early-third-century figure Rav. Here, Abbaye also provides us with three areas in which his master departed from Rav’s approach, favoring instead that of Rav’s contemporary, Shemuel. In all three cases, Rabba bar Nachmani, Abbaye reports, followed Shemuel’s more lenient approach. Let us focus on the last of these three, the case of dragging a bench over open ground on Shabbat.

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