Today’s Mitzvah

Adar I 23, 5774 · February 23, 2014
Today’s Mitzvah
A daily digest of Maimonides’ classic work “Sefer Hamitzvot”

Positive Commandment 155
Sanctifying the Shabbat

“Remember the Shabbat to keep it holy”—Exodus 20:8.

We are commanded to honor the Shabbat when it enters and when it leaves by pronouncing words that proclaim the greatness and holiness of the day, and its distinctness from the weekdays that precede and follow it. This mitzvah – commonly known as kiddush and havdalah – is preformed over a cup of wine.

Full text of this Mitzvah »


The Mishna exists by itself but it is a part of the Talmud because the Gemara is commentary and exegesis on the Mishna.  That being the case, you could say that the Gemara is the Talmud but I’ve never seen a Talmud that didn’t also contain the Mishna.  Just to add to the complexity, the Mishna and Gemara are not all that is contained in a Talmud.This visual break down from… might be helpful…

TALMUD MAP1 = Mishna is the first major transcription of the oral law. Foreseeing the advent of the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the world,RabbiJudah the Prince composed the Mishna around the year 200.
2 = Gemara is a written record of analytical discussions of the Mishna, along with philosophy, ethics, and practical advice, by the rabbinic authorities who lived between 200 and 500. This is the main body of the Talmud, consisting of some 4,500 pages of text.
3 = Rashi is an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Isaac, an 11th-century French commentator. Rashi explains the difficult terms and helps students understand the Gemara’s analysis and reasoning.
4 = Tosefos, which literally means “additions,” are collections of comments, generally based on Rashi, made by French and German rabbis between 1100 and 1300. These comments discuss conceptual issues raised in the Gemara, and contrast these with concepts raised in other Gemara texts.
5 = Hananel are comments by a 16th-century North African Talmudist.
6 = Eye of Justice, Mitzva Candle, by 16th-century Italian scholar Rabbi Joshua Boaz, includes notes referencing final legal decisions found inMaimonides‘ and others’ codes of Jewish law.
7 = Talmud Cross-References
8 = Light of the Bible includes references to Biblical quotations.
9 = Bach’s Annotations, textual emendations by 17th-century Polish scholar Rabbi Joel Sirkes, note variant texts that appear in early editions of the Talmud.
10 = Gra’s Annotations, concise notes by 18th-century Lithuanian scholar Vilna Gaon, suggest fascinating insights into legal rulings. Similar annotations by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and other 19th- and 20th-century scholars are planned for the new edition of the Talmud.

The RAMCHAL Mesillat Yesharim Path of the Just

“Fear of God” denotes fear of the Majesty of the Blessed One, fearing Him as one would a great and mighty king, and being ashamed at one’s every movement in consequence of His greatness, especially when speaking before Him in prayer or engaging in the study of His Torah.
“Walking in His ways” embodies the whole area of cultivation and correction of character traits. As our Sages of blessed memory have explained, “As He is merciful, be also merciful…” The essence of all this is that a person conform all of his traits and all the varieties of his actions to what is just and ethical. Our Sages of blessed memory have thus summarized the idea (Avoth 2.1): “All that is praiseworthy in its doer and brings praise to him from others;” that is, all that leads to the end of true good, namely, strengthening of Torah and furthering of brotherliness.“Love” – that there be implanted in a person’s heart a love for the Blessed One which will arouse his soul to do what is pleasing before Him, just as his heart is aroused to give pleasure to his father and mother. He will be grieved if he or others are lacking in this; he will be jealous for it and he will rejoice greatly in fulfilling aught of it. “Whole-heartedness” – that service before the Blessed One be characterized by purity of motive, that its end be His service alone and nothing else. Included in this is that one’s heart be complete in Divine service, that his interests not be divided or his observance mechanical, but that his whole heart be devoted to it.

“Observance of all the mitzvoth,” as the words imply, is observance of the whole body of mitzvoth with all of their fine points and conditions.

All of these principles require extensive interpretation. I have found that our Sages of blessed memory have categorized these elements in a different, more detailed formulation, in which they are arranged according to the order necessary for their proper acquisition. Their words are contained in a Baraitha mentioned in different places in the Talmud, one of them, the chapter “Before their festivals” (Avodah Zara 20b):

“From this R. Pinchas ben Yair adduced:
Torah leads to Watchfulness;
Watchfulness leads to Zeal;
Zeal leads to Cleanliness;
Cleanliness leads to Separation; 

Separation leads to Purity;
Purity leads to Saintliness;
Saintliness leads to Humility;
Humility leads to Fear of Sin;
Fear of Sin leads to Holiness;
Holiness leads to the Holy Spirit,
and the Holy Spirit leads to the Revival of the Dead.”

It is on the basis of this Baraitha that I have undertaken to write this work,in order to teach myself and to remind others of the conditions for perfect Divine service according to their gradations. In relation to each one, I shall explain its nature, its divisions or details, the manner of acquiring it, and its deterrents and the manner of guarding against them, so that I and all those who are pleased to do so may read therein in order to learn to fear the Lord our God and not forget our duty before Him. That which the earthiness of nature seeks to remove from our hearts, reading and contemplation will summon to our consciousness, and will awaken us to what is incumbent upon us.

May God be with our aspirations and keep our feet from stumbling, and may there be fulfilled in us the supplication of the Psalmist, beloved of his God (Psalms 86:11), “Teach me, O God, Your ways; I shall walk in Your truth. Make one my heart to fear Your Name.” Amen, so may be His will.

Purim Katan

Purim Katan is a rare guest that deserves special attention. In the 19-year cycle of regular and leap years we have nineteen Purims, but only seven Purim Katans. We must truly utilize it for special activities.
There’s a strong connection between Purim and Purim Katan. The Mishnah teaches: “There is no difference between the first Adar and the second Adar, but the reading of the Megillah and the distribution of gifts to the poor.” (Megillah 6b)
Otherwise, both Purims are the same, with Purim Katan being first!
Click here for more

The sacrifice of Yom Kippur

The sacrifice of Yom Kippur is separate and distinct from all the other sacrifices offered during the year. While the others reconciled the sinner on a day to day basis with God, Yom Kippur is the day that God would forgive all the sins of all the people in every generation – in essence this was their salvation sacrifice.

Yom Kippur is the only time that the High Priest would enter into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, doing this four times in all that day. He would remove four of his eight garments – all those with gold – He would change his clothes five times, dipping himself in a Mikveh each time.Special offerings were made in addition to the regular ones:
An offering for all the people paid for with public funds (Korban Mussaf) The High Priest’s personal sacrifice paid for with his own money

The two goats – one sacrificed to Hashem and the other sent to Alazel after all the sins of the people were “placed” upon it The High priest would turn to the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, and sprinkled the blood of the bull sacrifice one time upward, then seven times downward. He would repeat this process with the blood of the goat sacrifice one time upward, then seven times downward.He then entered the Holy of Holies, took blood from the bull and the goat and put some on the four corners of the threshing floor. He also sprinkled this on the altar, repeating the process of sprinkling once upwards, then seven times downward.

The miracles/signs that took place, showing God’s approval and forgiveness:

Drawing of lots always produced “LaHashem” in the right hand
The red ribbon tied to the scapegoat always turned white
The Center light of the Menora always burned until morning
Fire on the copper altar never went out even when it wasn’t properly stoked
Priests felt full even after eating only a small part of the offerings
The smoke of the incense offering would fill the Holy of Holies

The Talmud however, records that many of these miracles ceased to occur about 40 years before the destruction of the second Temple, and never returned. This of course coincides with the time of the death of Yeshua:

Yoma 39b – During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself? I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Zechariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee: Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

The Aramaic Solution to Jesus’ Conflicting Genealogies

The following article is invaluable in solving this centuries-old problem. This is yet more evidence of the superiority of the Aramaic Scriptures, the Peshitta. It answers the following questions:
• Why are there only list 13 generations listed from the Captivity of Babylon to Jesus, in Matthew’s
account? Doesn’t Matthew say there should be 14 generations?
• Why does Luke list 20 generations in the second series, and 22 in the third? If this is the same
Joseph, shouldn’t there be 14 generations in the second and third series of Luke as well?
• Why do the lineages of Joseph, the husband of Mary, almost completely differ in the two accounts?
• How can Jesus be the Son of David, if Mary is not a daughter of David?
• If both St. Matthew and St. Luke give the genealogy of St. Joseph, the one through the lineage of Solomon, the other through that of Nathan – how can the lines converge in Joseph? How can Joseph claim descent from King David, through both Nathan and Solomon?

It was written by Paul David Younan, of