Talmud Tips

For the week ending 24 May 2014 / 24 Iyyar 5774

Rosh Hashana 16 - 22

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

“Four things tear up a negative (Heavenly) verdict against a person. They are: giving charity, crying out in prayer, changing one’s name, and changing one’s deeds from negative to positive.”

Rabbi Yitzchak instructs us with this statement on our daf how to avoid harsh punishment for transgressions, and derives them from verses as taught in the gemara. An additional method is also mentioned in the name of “Others”: changing one’s location. The gemara learns this additional way of tearing up the decree from what G-d said to Avraham: “Go for yourself… to the land that I will show you… and I will make you there into a great nation.” However, Rabbi Yitzchak did not initially quote this reason, since it is possible that it was the special and unique merit of going up the Land of Israel that helped the change for the better, which would not apply to other changes in location.

  • Rosh Hashana 16b

“A person is obligated to visit one’s rabbi during the Festival.”

This is another teaching from Rabbi Yitzchak on our daf,and he derives it from a verse in the Book of Kings. Although this teaching is found in the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam, it does not appear in the Shulchan Aruch of laws that apply in our time. Rather, explain the authorities, it applies only in the time of the Beit Hamikdash, when there is also a mitzvah “to see and be seen” in the Beit Hamikdash on Festivals. However, in our time when we can no longer fulfill this mitzvah associated with the Beit Hamikdash, it would be inappropriate to give special honor to another person – a rabbi – by means of a visit, at a time when it is not possible to display this honor to G-d by visiting in the Beit Hamikdash which is not currently standing. May it be rebuilt speedily in our days.

  • Rosh Hashana 16b

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