Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Avodah Zarah 10

Recently, a friend remarked to me that he wished daf yomi was all aggadita. I have noticed over the last few cycles that this is a commom sentiment as people transition from the dry mesechtos of Makkos and Shevuous to Avodah Zarah.

Avodah Zarah 10 while nominally discussing the pagan holidays cited to in the mishna, devotes most of its space to aggadita. I would like to briefly discuss two of the stories raised on the daf.

On Avodah Zarah 10a the gemara discusses the yom genusia and analyzes what this holiday was. As part of the discussion, the gemara remarks about Greece that it has no language and no alphabet. Tosafos (d'h She'ain)cites to a Rashi that is not found on the daf which states that the gemara means that Greece took its language and alphabet from another culture. This poses a problem for Tosafos which notes that all the nations which followed dor haflaga had to have taken their language from another as well. Tosafos citing Bereishis Rabah offers an answer that during the destruction of migdal bavel, the sea spat many families from the 70 nations around and that they all caused languages to be inherited in their areas.

Towards the bottom of Avodah Zarah 10b, the gemara tells the story of Ketiah Bar Shalom, a gentile who argued with a Caesar and demonstrated that the Caesar could not wipe out all of the Jewish people. The Caesar acknowledged that Ketiah was correct, but since he had bested the Caesar in an intellectual exercise he must be killed. While Ketiah was being taken out to be killed, a woman told him that he could not be admitted to Olam Haba since he did not have a bris. Ketiah circumcised himself and then remarked that he had paid his tax and could be admitted to the next world. (He also donated all his possessions to R' Akiva and his friends). A heavenly voice issued that Ketiah had earned a place in Olah Haba. Upon hearing this, Rebbi cried and said - some earn a place in the world to come with years of effort and others in one hour ("Yesh koneh olamo b'sha'ah achas").

When giving this daf in shul, I could not resist retelling the story told by R' Frand at the 2005 siyum hashas. R' Frand told a story about a young man who had gone away to yeshiva to learn. When he returned home, the boy used to sit at the dining room table and learn, while his dad (a former boxer) watched the fights on TV in the other room.

One night, the father approached his son and asked what he was learning. The boy replied that he was learning gemara (talmud). The father asked if he could learn with the son and the son obliged. Over the course of the next series of months the father and son learned together until they had finished a page of gemara.

When the two had completed their study, the father told his son that he felt a great deal of accomplishment and wanted to make a party. The son was skeptical as one normally celebrates finishing a tractate of gemara, not one page. Nonetheless, the dutiful son asked R. Moshe Feinstein, zt'l whether the party could be made. R' Moshe answered in the affirmative and asked for permission to attend the party.

Not long after the father passed away. When he was informed of the loss, R' Moshe asked whether he could speak at the funeral. Upon being given an opportunity to speak, R' Moshe commented that it is widely known that a person can obtain a place in the world to come in one hour ("Yesh koneh olamo b'sha'ah achas"). R' Moshe then remarked that the boxer had secured a place in the afterlife with the one page that he had learned ("Yesh koneh olamo b'daf achas").

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click http://www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com/ to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!


Beerman said...

wow nice story! i have to disagree with your friend, as i prefer my masechtos dry- just like my beer!

Neil T said...

To each their own... But I have heard this from many of the "daffies".

moishe613 said...

i happen to be a huge fan of aggadita. my favorite masechta is taanis.

Yaakov said...

Rabbi Elefant brought a nice Chidushei Harim we see the importance of time from Ktia Bar Shalom from his 1 act he got olam haba we see that we shouldnt waste time

Joseph Rosenberg said...

Thank u r frand, it was this story that inspired me to learn daf yomi!

Neil T said...

Thank you so much for sharing that. If you are finishing this week, Mazal Tov as well!