TalmuDigest

For the week ending 14 March 2009 / 18 Adar I 5769

Bava Kama 79 - 85

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Selling or slaughtering a stolen animal in owner's domain
  • When a shomer (guardian) assumes responsibility
  • Difference between a ganav (burglar) and gazlan (robber)
  • Restrictions on raising animals in Eretz Yisrael
  • The single sin of the righteous Jew
  • The importance of buying a house in Eretz Yisrael from a non-Jew
  • Ten conditions made by Yehoshua for inheriting Eretz Yisrael
  • Ten decrees of Ezra the Scribe
  • Source for public reading of the Torah
  • Ten special rules relating to Yerushalayim
  • The civil war of the Hasmonean dynasty
  • Danger of raising a dog
  • Penalties for a human wounding another human
  • Why "eye for an eye' is not to be understood literally
  • Jurisdiction of courts outside of Eretz Yisrael
  • Evaluating payments due for damage done to a human

Thirst for Torah

  • Bava Kama 82a

What is the origin of public reading of the Torah?

Our gemara traces the origin to a passage in the Torah (Shemot 15:22).

"They went for a three-day period in the Wilderness but could not find water."

The water referred to here, say our Sages, is Torah. Three days without communal learning of Torah led to a serious weakening of the spirit. The prophets among them (led by Moshe) thereupon instituted the practice of public reading of the Torah on Shabbat, Yom Sheini (Monday) and Yom Chamishi (Thursday), so that there should never be three consecutive days without Torah.

In a later period of history Ezra the Scribe added to this practice the reading of the Torah at Mincha on Shabbat, and instituted in that reading and the ones on the weekdays the requirement of calling up three people for the reading of a minimum of ten passages.

But why were Monday and Thursday chosen as the days for public reading when the same objective of avoiding a three-day break could have been achieved with other days?

Tosefot supplies the answer by citing a midrash that it was on Thursday that Moshe went up to Heaven to receive the Second Tablets and came down with them on Monday. Since these Tablets represented Divine forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf, these days are considered special days of finding favor in the eyes of G-d and most fitting for the public reading of His Torah.

What the Sages Say

"Torah is compared to water as the Prophet Yishayahu puts it (54:1), 'Ho, let everyone who is thirsty come to the water’."

  • Anonymous Sages Expert in Torah Interpretation - Bava Kama 82a

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