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The Power of Words: Unleashing Blessings or Curses (Parshat Balak)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
July 18th, 2024

Parshat Balak recounts the intriguing story of the Moab King, who sought to curse Bnei Yisrael through the prophet Bilam. However, through the divine intervention of Hashem, Bilam's curses transformed into blessings. While the narrative highlights Hashem’s love and protection towards us, it also provides us a profound lesson on the psychological concept of the power of words. In our everyday lives, we often underestimate the impact of our w …
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Jewish Environmentalism Bava Basra 26 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 21st, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the prohibition of cutting down a fruit bearing tree. This is a matter that is taken seriously, and the Gemara even relates a story about someone who died, apparently from the spiritual backlash of this destructive act.
Rabbenu Yonah (Shaarey Teshuva 3:82) says this prohibition extends to any wasteful or destructive act, and warns to not even waste a penny. While this commandment is common sense and basic …
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You Can Take The Bachur Out Of The Yeshiva, But You Can’t Take The Yeshiva Out Of The Bachur Bava Basra 25
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis offers segulos for wisdom and wealth:
אמר רבי יצחק: הרוצה שיחכים – ידרים, ושיעשיר – יצפין, וסימניך: שלחן בצפון ומנורה בדרום. ורבי יהושע בן לוי אמר: לעולם ידרים, שמתוך שמתחכם מתעשר – שנאמר: ארך ימים בימינה, בשמאלה עשר וכבוד״.
Rabbi Yitzḥak says: One who …
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Homing Pigeons Bava Basra 24 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the habits of a chick-dove that does not fly, and merely hops, in that it will not stray further than line-of-sight to its nest. This has implications to determining its origin and ownership if it is found nearby.
The Torah uses a nest as a metaphor for being in Hashem’s embrace as is stated in Devarim (32:6):
הלוא־הוא אביך קנך הוא עשך ויכננך
Is not this the Fat …
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Highly Sensitive Persons Bava Basra 23 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 18th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph tells us about Rav Yosef, one of the most respected sages of the Talmud, who describes himself as more sensitive than typical. This has halachic implications for what types of nuisances and pollution his neighbors must remove. In a different Gemara (Succah 29a), Rav Yosef’s sensitivity also has implications on when he is exempted from the mitzvah of Succah, with a lower threshold of tolerance for discomfort than oth …
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Healthy and Unhealthy Competition Bava Basra 22 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 17th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses ways in which the usual rabbinic market protections do not apply to teachers of Torah, thus one melamed cannot object to another encroaching on his territory. The reason is that competition makes for better education. The Gemara’s wording is more broad, suggesting a larger application:
קנאת סופרים תרבה חכמה.
Jealousy among teachers increases wisdom
This is taken as a bro …
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The Anti-Avraham Bava Basra 21 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 16th, 2024

  Our Gemara on Amud Aleph offers ancient wisdom and ideas regarding pedagogy of young school children:   אמר ליה רב לרב שמואל בר שילת: עד שית לא תקביל, מכאן ואילך – קביל, ואספי ליה כתורא. ואמר ליה רב לרב שמואל בר שילת: כי מחית לינוקא, לא תימחי אלא בערקתא דמסנא. דקארי – קארי, דלא קארי – ל …
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The Power of Innocent Torah Bava Basra 20 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 15th, 2024

Our Mishna on Amud Beis discusses that though one may object to a neighbor opening a store in a residential courtyard, if the neighbor teaches Torah to children he is allowed to do so despite the traffic and noise pollution.    Our sages had much to say about the value of young children learning Torah. The Gemara Shabbos (119b) famously states:   אמר ריש לקיש משום רבי יהודה נשיאה: אין העולם מתק …
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I Don't Get No (Self) Respect!
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
July 11th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I recently realized that I am never happy with myself. I used to think that if I learned well, did a good shidduch, was top of my class, and was successful, then I would finally feel worthwhile. I was recently complaining to a friend and he pointed out to me that objectively things are really good right now and if I feel so bad all the time, I should probably get help.  It was a bit jarring to me honestly. I am starting …
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Tragedy and Children
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
July 11th, 2024

Dear Therapist: Recently there have been few shocking tragedies in my area. Each one has been very sudden, unexpected, and jarring in its own way. This is on top of the overall tzaros that have been happening in Eretz Yisroel since Succos. I find that for the last few weeks I am constantly on edge. Of course, I have been taking hisorerus from rabbonim and I try to be mechazek myself as much a …
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Do I Have Psychosis?
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
July 11th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have a friend at work that was acting strangely and my coworkers are saying he "snapped." I am not sure what this means. Someone said this means he has psychosis. What is the meaning of psychosis? Is this something that can happen suddenly to someone without warning? I myself have gone to therapy in the past for anxiety and baruch Hashem I am doing very well but I am worried about something like this happening to me. I …
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Knowing isn't Everything: The Insight Fallacy (Parshat Chukat)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
July 10th, 2024

Parashat Chukat begins with a passage that requires further investigation due to its profound psychological meaning. “This is the law of the Torah that Hashem commanded saying, Speak to Bnei Yisrael and they should take for you a completely red cow that has no blemish and has never born a yoke.” The passage describes the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, Red Cow, as ‘the law of the Torah,’ ‘chukat ha’torah’, …
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Charity Begins in the Uterus Bava Basra 18 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 12th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses the damage that mustard might cause to a nearby beehive, and the various liabilities that neighbors have toward each other:   “One must likewise distance mustard from bees that are in a neighbor’s field.”   Rashi explains that the mustard is sharp and that taste causes the bees to seek out a sweet taste afterward, inducing them to consume their own honey. Which is, of course, a loss o …
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Tasteless Sin Bava Basra 17!Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 12th, 2024

Our Gemara at the end of 16b and beginning 17a teaches us that certain great tzaddikim were able to get a taste of the World to Come, while still alive on this earth. One of these righteous persons was our forefather, Yaakov.   Be’er Mayyim Chaim (Bereishis 32:33) expands on this concept with an interesting take in regard to the ancient Jewish custom and prohibition of not eating the sciatic nerve.   After Yaakov’s mostly su …
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No One Dies From A Question Bava Basra 16 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 11th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses some of Iyov’s complaints and confusion regarding his seemingly undeserved suffering and calamities:   “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked, he covers the faces of its judges; if not he, then who is it?” (Job 9:24). Rava says: Job sought to turn the bowl upside down, that is to say, he alluded here to a heretical thought, as he said that the earth is given into the hand of the w …
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The Toxic Trait of Defensiveness Bava Basra 15 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 10th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis laments the sad state of affairs during the Biblical Era of the Judges   And further, with regard to Rabbi Elazar’s statement in the baraisa that the generation of the judging of the Judges was one of vanity, Rabbi Yoḥanan says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And it happened in the days of the judging of the Judges” (Ruth 1:1)? This indicates a generation that judged its judges. If …
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A Healthy And Whole Person Is In Touch With His Broken Parts Bava Basra 14 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 9th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis tells us about the contents of the Holy Ark:    “Both the second set of tablets and the broken pieces of the first set of tablets were placed in the Ark.”   Why keep the broken tablets in the Ark?  What prominence and lesson do they hold? Tiferes Shlomo (Sha’ar Hatefila) explains, based on a Zohar (III:283a), that the human heart has two chambers.  One chamber represents the aspec …
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Allowing Yourself to Receive Bava Basra 13 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 8th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis discusses the legal position of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel regarding the splitting of a courtyard that was held in partnership but it is too small to divide in half and still retain its function or description, such as each part would be less than four cubits:   If a courtyard or the like was not large enough to warrant division into two, and one of the co-owners said to the other: You take a minimum measure of the cour …
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Arrogance: A Cautionary Tale (Parshat Korach)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
July 3rd, 2024

Parshat Korach presents a compelling narrative that delves into the destructive nature of arrogance and the problems it can cause. Korach, a member of the tribe of Levi, challenges the leadership of Moshe and Aharon, driven by his own pride and desire for power. His story serves as a cautionary tale, teaching us the importance of humility and the perils of unchecked arrogance.   Arrogance is characterized by an exaggerated belief in one's ow …
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Environmental Impact Study Bava Basra 12 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 7th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the status of a former doorway that was sealed, and at what point is it considered fully sealed with no remnant.  There can be many halachic implications, such as if the door still requires a mezuzah, or if the rights to a loading and unloading area are forfeited to the other occupants of the area.   There is an interesting mystical concern about closing doorways and windows, asserted by Sefer Chasidim …
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Truth Will Spring Out Of The Earth Bava Basra 11 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 5th, 2024

Continuing the discussion about the power of tzedakah, our Gemara on Amud Aleph tells us about a Gentile king who flouted his family’s hoarding of wealth, and instead donated his assets to charity.    תנו רבנן: מעשה במונבז המלך, שבזבז אוצרותיו ואוצרות אבותיו בשני בצורת, וחברו עליו אחיו ובית אביו, ואמרו לו: אבותיך גנזו והוסיפו על …
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Morality as Choice Bava Basra 10 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 5th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph records an important theological discussion about the nature of God and Man, and why God leaves certain aspects of civilization in the hands of man to correct and protect;   תניא: היה רבי מאיר אומר, יש לו לבעל הדין להשיבך ולומר לך: אם אלהיכם אוהב עניים הוא, מפני מה אינו מפרנסן? אמור לו: כדי שניצול אנו בהן מדינה ש …
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Every Yiddle Bit Bava Basra 9 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 4th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis extols the virtue and impact of even small amounts of tzedakah:   Rabbi Elazar: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And He donned charity like a coat of plated armor” (Isaiah 59:17)? This verse serves to tell you that just as with regard to a coat of armor, each and every scale of which it is fashioned combines to form one large coat of mail, so too with regard to charity, each and every peruta …
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The Atheist who is a Masmid Bava Basra 8 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 3rd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph continues to discuss the protective power of Torah study:   אדנביאי – דכתיב: ״גם כי יתנו בגוים עתה אקבצם, ויחלו מעט ממשא מלך ושרים״ – אמר עולא: פסוק זה בלשון ארמית נאמר: ״אי תנו״ כולהו – ״עתה אקבצם״, ואם ״מעט״ מהם – ״יחלו ממשא מלך ושרים״.   And you have tran …
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Stages of Moral Development Bava Basra 7 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 2nd, 2024

In our Gemara on Amud Beis, Reish Lakish offers a proof text that sages benefit from a divine shield and watchtower protecting them:   “I am a wall and my breasts are like towers” (Song of Songs 8:10), which may be explained as follows: “I am a wall”; this is referring to the Torah. “And my breasts are like towers. These are Torah scholars, who are as towers, and do not require additional protection.” &nbs …
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Red-Handed Rationalizations Bava Basra 6 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 1st, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis describes various partitions between two yards and their function. One of them is known as misepas, which can be a barrier, only ten handbreadths high, and a smaller barrier, even less than ten handbreadths. Both small partitions are ineffective in keeping out intruders or line of sight, but the taller one is big enough that a trespasser cannot innocently claim he didn’t realize he was on private property. This has c …
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Inappropriate Touching and Safety
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
June 26th, 2024

Dear Therapist: As we begin the season can you please share your general recommendations as to how parents should talk to their children about safety in the summer. Many parents (hopefully) know the basics, but I wonder if, based on your experiences, there are ways to discuss things that people don't know. Or maybe there are some things that people don't realize they should talk about with their kids.  I think this would be a public service …
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Delayed Traumatic Reaction
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
June 26th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I really appreciate your weekly column. What happens if a someone goes through trauma at home and doesn't take care of it—meaning, go for help.  If they're fine, could they stay fine? I am worried because many people say it comes back in later years. Thank you!   Response: The simple answer is yes; someone who experiences a “trauma” can be fine. However, this depends on a number of factors. Th …
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Aliyah-phobia
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
June 26th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have a silly fear of getting an aliyah. I have actually heard others that have it as well. This is even though I actually don't have an issue with doing other things in public. In the past I have managed to "white knuckle" it when I needed to but recently, I have found myself slipping out of shul during laining to try and avoid it. I do well otherwise and have no traumas or anything like that in my life. I am wond …
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Bad Therapy
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
June 26th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have heard my friends discussing an idea developed by an author concerning "bad therapy." I presume that means there is bad therapy and good therapy. Would appreciate if the panel would state their opinions on the difference between helpful and unhelpful therapy. What is the best way for someone who is considering therapy to tell the difference?    Response: I haven’t read Abigail Shrier’s book, but I …
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The Emphatic But (Parshat Shelach)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
June 25th, 2024

In this week's Parasha, Parshat Shelach, we encounter a fascinating insight into the psychology of communication. The Parasha tells of 10 spies who brought back frightening reports about the Aretz Yisrael resulting in Bnei Yisrael rebelling against Hashem, leading to 40 years of wandering in the desert. At first glance, the initial report of the spies appears to be factual statements regarding what they surveyed. “We came to the land you se …
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The Imagined Achievement Becomes a Substitute for Actual Achievement Bava Basra 5 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 30th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses what legal assumptions can be made when a borrower claims to have paid back a loan, but the lender refuses.    גְּמָ׳ אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: הַקּוֹבֵעַ זְמַן לַחֲבֵירוֹ, וְאָמַר לוֹ: ״פְּרַעְתִּיךָ בְּתוֹךְ זְמַנִּי״ – אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן; וּלְוַאי שֶׁיִּפְרַע בִּזְמַנּוֹ. …
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Getting Boxed into Marriage Bava Basra 4 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 28th, 2024

Our Gemaraq on amud aleph discusses financial responsibilities when someone with a bordering property builds a fence that will benefit the other person as well, since the back of the fence will also protect the other property:   הַמַּקִּיף אֶת חֲבֵירוֹ מִשָּׁלֹשׁ רוּחוֹתָיו, וְגָדַר אֶת הָרִאשׁוֹנָה וְאֶת הַשְּׁנִיָּה וְאֶת הַשְּׁלִישִׁית &ndas …
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Fun Leydike Feser Iz Der Lyarem Greser Bava Basra 3 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 28th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud aleph records a declaration about the second Temple, as compared to the Temple, based on a verse in Chaggai (2:9) :   גָּד֣וֹל יִֽהְיֶ֡ה כְּבוֹד֩ הַבַּ֨יִת הַזֶּ֤ה הָאַֽחֲרוֹן֙ מִן־הָ֣רִאשׁ֔וֹן אָמַ֖ר ה׳   The glory of this latter House shall be greater than that of the former one, said GOD of Hosts   The Chasam Sofer (Derashos page 328) …
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Fiddler on the Wall Bava Basra 2 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 27th, 2024

  Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the rights and responsibilities of partners who share a yard, and intend to construct a partition between them:   הַשּׁוּתָּפִין שֶׁרָצוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת מְחִיצָה בְּחָצֵר – בּוֹנִין אֶת הַכּוֹתֶל בְּאֶמְצַע. מָקוֹם שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ לִבְנוֹת גְּוִיל, גָּזִית, כְּפִיסִין, לְבֵי …
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A Whole and One Bava Metzia 119 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph (and the previous daf) discusses how ownership is determined for produce that grows on the side of a ledge, where the top is a garden owned by one person, and the bottom is owned by another. What is the status of those vegetables that grow on the vertical surface between them?   מַתְנִי׳ שְׁתֵּי גַּנּוֹת זוֹ עַל גַּב זוֹ, וְהַיָּרָק בֵּינְתַיִם. רַבִּי מ …
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Love at First Sight Bava Metzia 118 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 25th, 2024

Love at First Sight   Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the possibility that even viewing certain ownerless items, with the intent to possess them, effects a binding acquisition.   Rav Shlomo Kluger (Chachmas Torah, Vayetze) asks, The sages teach, one who is without a woman, is without Torah (Yevamos 62b). If so, how could Yaakov maintain that he was observant of all the mitzvos while he was at Lavan’s house (see Rashi Bereishis …
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Trickle Down Theory Bava Metzia 117 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 24th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses liabilities between the upper floor residents and the lower floor residents of a home:   הָנְהוּ בֵּי תְרֵי דַּהֲווֹ דָּיְירִי, חַד עִילַּאי וְחַד תַּתַּאי. אִיפְּחִית מַעֲזִיבָה. כִּי מָשֵׁי מַיָּא, עִילַּאי אָזְלִי וּמַזְּקִי לְתַתַּאי. מִי מְתַקֵּן? רַבִּי חִי …
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Holiday Comeback Story (Beha’alotcha)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
June 20th, 2024

Judaism is a religion of second changes. In Parshat Beha’alotcha, we encounter a remarkable story of having a second chance, the story of Pesach Sheni. This special holiday was instituted for those who had a setback leading to impurity making them unable to bring the Pesach offering. To have a comeback, you first need a setback. Pesach Sheni offers a profound lesson interwoven with the psychological concept of second changes.   The Par …
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The Doctrine of the Descent of the Tzaddik Bava Metzia 116 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
June 23rd, 2024

  Our Mishna on Amud Beis describes the halachic status of a renter who lives in the attic and what are his rights should it become uninhabitable, such as a caved-in floor:   מַתְנִי׳ הַבַּיִת וְהָעֲלִיָּיה. נִפְחֲתָה הָעֲלִיָּיה, וְאֵין בַּעַל הַבַּיִת רוֹצֶה לְתַקֵּן – הֲרֵי בַּעַל הָעֲלִיָּיה יוֹרֵד וְדָר לְמַ …
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