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Showing Results 1 - 40 (837 total)
Walls and Self-Deception Kesuvos 41 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 16th, 2022

    Self-deception and unconscious self-destructive urges are confounding.  At times, we make best and sincerest efforts to avoid falling into certain patterns and dysfunctional behavior.  Despite this, like lemmings, we hurl ourselves over the cliff to our doom. Our Gemara on Amud Beis quotes a verse (Devarim 22:8) that instructs one to make their home safe: כִּ֤י תִבְנֶה֙ בַּ֣יִת חָדָ֔שׁ וְעָש …
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Irrational Parental Requests Kesuvos 40 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 15th, 2022

What is the extent and nature of the commandment to honor parents? Is it to honor requests of substance that bring them benefit, as enumerated by Gemara Kiddushin (31b, quoted below), or is it even to honor their requests that have no concrete benefit? In other words, if your father or mother ask you to pour them a glass of tea, this is honoring their request and brings them a concrete benefit. But what about if one’s parents say, “Do …
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It is Not Fine at All Kesuvos 38 and 39 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 14th, 2022

It seems to be a staple of modern and ancient law, and even aspects of halacha to enact  fines upon perpetrators.  Our Gemara on Amud Aleph (see Rashi as well) notes that the institution of fines represent an extra-judicial response that is not about compensation per se, but some form of punishment.  According to the Klein Dictionary, the etymology of the word Kenas is Greek. It is related to the word census, which is to count.&nbs …
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Respect for Psychological and Physical Torment of the Victim Kesuvos 37 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 12th, 2022

The Torah’s response to accidental death when there is a degree of negligence is for the perpetrator to go into exile until the death of the Cohen Godol, as our Gemara on Amud Beis describes. But what is the reason for exile?  The verses offer a mixed message because there is reference to not accepting payment as exchange for forgiveness (as described in our Gemara), which implies exile is a form of penance, yet the verses also speak o …
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Listen Your Way to a Better Intimate Life Kesuvos 36 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 11th, 2022

The great mystics saw God in everything.  The more physical something is, the more intensely spiritual potential is locked within it. After all, if God leaves a road sign, it pays to read it carefully.  When there is so much physical energy present, it is only the tip of the spiritual iceberg.  This is why erotic and sexual imagery is used constantly by the Zohar and other mystical works.  It’s much more than a metaphor. …
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Backlash for Sins Kesuvos 35 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 10th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph quotes the verse in Devarim (25:2-3) which are the scriptural source for the punishment of lashes. It is notable that though the verse states 40 lashes, there is a rabbinic tradition that seemingly overrides the explicit verse and the number of lashes is never to exceed 39.  (For more on the philosophical and psychological implications of this dichotomy, see Psychology of the Daf, Kesuvos 32.)  Regardless of the …
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Rav Soloveitchik Meets Heschel Kesuvos 34 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 9th, 2022

What makes Shabbos into Shabbos? It is told that when Rav JB Soloveitchick was showed AJ Heschel’s book, “The Sabbath”, he commented.  “Shabbos is ‘An Oasis in time? (Heschel’s poetic term, implying that Shabbos is unique space in time) — No, Shabbos is the 39 Melachos!”  Despite this very Lithuanian quip, the Shabbos is called holy, and how can we understand what that means in practical t …
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Miscarriage of Justice Kesuvos 33 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 8th, 2022

It is a fact of life, psychologically and religiously, that the human psyche is in constant conflict and turmoil. Our Gemara quotes a verse that describes a quarrel between two men, an injured female bystanders and her fetuses. Toldos Yaakov Yosef reads into these verses a insightful allegory of the eternal struggle between the good inclination and the evil inclination. The verses are as follows (Shemos 21:22-24): וְכִֽי־יִנָּצ֣וּ …
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More on Psychology of the Oral Torah Kesuvos 32 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 7th, 2022

The Oral Torah is taught to us when we are grade school children as a fact and feature of Torah, with little explanation as to its function and significance. I venture to say that many people just think of it as two parallel Torahs; one was originally written while the other was not. This does not make much sense as there should logically be a reason why certain aspects of the Torah were originally designated as oral and other parts not. From a s …
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Don’t Kill Off Ideas Kesuvos 31 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 5th, 2022

Our ideas and our thoughts are metaphorically our offspring.  When a person formulates an idea, he or she goes through a process of “conception”, literally and metaphorically.  The execution of the idea, bringing it from conception to delivery, is the final birth of the thought, as it now becomes action.  Our sages teach us, “The main progeny of the righteous are their good deeds.” (Rashi Bereishis 6:9, base …
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Neurotic Fear versus Reasonable Caution Kesuvos 30 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 5th, 2022

  One of the great challenges in the sphere of religious behavior and personal autonomy is how much effort is appropriate versus trusting and relying on God.  What is controlling and arrogant?  What is too passive and trusting?  In today’s daf, we will examine some classic Jewish thought on the matter, as well as discuss some of the psychology of anxiety and religion. Our Gemara on Amud Aleph makes the famous declaration …
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When There is Coercion, There Also is Obligation Kesuvos 29 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 4th, 2022

  Continuing our theme from yesterday’s daf about fear in the classroom and pedagogy, there is another dynamic involved in a relationship of dominance.  Whether ideal or not, when one party coerces and dominates the other party, there also is a moral obligation about the dominant party to provide for the subjugated party.  It is a truism in human nature.  For example, though the master may have many servants and obviousl …
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Fear in the Classroom and in Pedagogy Kesuvos 28 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 3rd, 2022

Much as we would like to think of school as a positive and happy place, we cannot dismiss the necessary element of fear as part of the educational experience.  In order for teachers to maintain respect and order, students must have some degree of fear in relation to their authority.  Of course, taken to an extreme, children who experience overwhelming dread and anxiety will not learn well, and even if obedient, will be less likely to ex …
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The Yetzer Hara Always Has Time Kesuvos 27 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 2nd, 2022

When it comes to certain sins or desires, humans are ingenious and relentless in achieving their goals. An addict could spend hours, overcoming great adversity, planning and plotting to get his or her fix. Halakha recognizes this as well. Our Gemara on Amud Aleph raises a contradiction between our Mishna’s case and a Mishna in Avoda Zara (70b).  Our Mishna teaches us if a city was invaded by a marauding army, women who were married to …
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Courting Contempt Kesuvos 26 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
August 1st, 2022

How far does the Jewish tradition go to protect the authority of the court? Will the court reverse its ruling when new evidence appears, even if this makes the judges appear incompetent? Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the concept of זילותא דבי דינא a denigration of the Jewish court of law. The Gemara considers that in a situation where new legal information came up that overrides the original ruling, in certain cases the judges s …
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The Special Mitzvah of Taking Challah Kesuvos 25 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 25th, 2022

Our Gemara quotes the verse in Bamidbar (15:18) that describes the mitzvah of Challah, “When you enter into the land that I have brought you.” Because of the emphasis on entering the land, as opposed to conquering it, Challah is different than Terumah and other Israel-related produce that is separated and made holy.  The obligations of Terumah and maaser only became activated after the land was acquired.  However, the obliga …
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Why Do People Fake Their Identity? Kesuvos 24 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 29th, 2022

Our Gemara discusses what kinds of testimony is valid to establish lineage. The Gemara has much skepticism about individuals claiming certain lineage.  This makes me wonder, lomdus aside, why not trust a person who declares his identity, especially when in many situations of issur v’heter we trust a person's own testimony, even relating to their food or other personal halakhic issues? We have recently learned of many agunah situations …
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Early Sexual Trauma in Marriage Kesuvos 22 & 23 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 28th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph and Beis, discusses a situation where a woman told her husband that she was a niddah, and then later retracted.  The issue is, can we believe her retraction or must she go through a process of counting and Mikvah as if she really was a niddah.  The basic halakha is that if she gives a credible explanation for why she falsely claimed to be a niddah, even though she wasn’t, she is believed.  Notably, an …
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Does God “Want” Validation too? Kesuvos 21 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 27th, 2022

Humans are social and dialogic. From our earliest moments, our consciousness and development of mind come from interaction and experience with a loved one. We learn how to live and feel from our mothers’ initially, and then an expanding network of persons, who show love and care by seeing us, empathizing with us, mirroring and interacting with us. Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the possibility of a person serving simultaneously as a witn …
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Memory Retrieval and Accuracy Kesuvos 20 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 26th, 2022

The only way we know anything is our memory. We must rely on it to stay sane, make calculations, and learn from experience. But just because it’s all we really have, is it reliable? Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses a dispute between Rabbi Yochanan and Rav Huna as to the extent that witnesses can use written notes to remind them of their testimony.  Rav Huna requires that they remember some aspect prior to reading their notes, and the …
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Prerequisites for Penitence Kesuvos 19 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 25th, 2022

How important is regret in the process of repentance? Our Gemara on Amud Aleph quotes the verse in Bamidbar (5:7) דַּבֵּר֮ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ אִ֣ישׁ אֽוֹ־אִשָּׁ֗ה כִּ֤י יַעֲשׂוּ֙ מִכׇּל־חַטֹּ֣את הָֽאָדָ֔ם לִמְעֹ֥ל מַ֖עַל בַּה׳ וְאָֽשְׁמָ֖ה הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַהִֽוא׃ Speak to the Israelites: When men or women indivi …
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Talmudic Good Samaritan Law Kesuvos 18 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 24th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the Talmudic equivalent of the Good Samaritan Law. Namely, that even though ordinarily someone who makes a partial admission to a claim is Biblically obligated to make an oath (Shevuas Modeh Bemiktzas), if he is returning a lost object, the rabbis exempted him.  To illustrate, ordinarily if Reuven accuses Shimon of owing him $100, and Shimon denies it, Shimon is Biblically exempt as there is no proof or gro …
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Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? Kesuvos 17 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 22nd, 2022

We will continue our discussion from yesterday's daf about the famous dispute between Shammai and Hillel over whether one should be honest when praising the Kallah or exaggerate.  Tosafos points out the obvious, that Bais Shammai was not advocating actively discussing her flaws.  Bais Shammai was simply saying either keep quiet or focus on praising the Kallah for her genuine good qualities, but do not lie.  Bais Hillel though was e …
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Let God Fill in the Blanks Kesuvos 16 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 22nd, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Beis begins a discussion about how to praise and dance before the Kallah.  Much ink has been spilled and thousands of hours of Sheva Berachos Torah has been created on discussing the famous machlokes of Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel regarding whether the Kallah should be praised in an exaggerated fashion or not.  Over the next two daf, I will discuss a few interesting and out of the box interpretations of this often qu …
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Why Do They Throw Stuff at the Chosson? Kesuvos 15 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 21st, 2022

Our Mishna on Amud Beis refers to a custom where they would give out roasted grain at the wedding ceremony of a virgin.  What is the basis and symbolism of this custom? Abudarham Laws of Blessings Ninth Gate Blessings on Commandments Marriage Blessings, quoting a verse (Tehilim 147:14) השם גבולך שלום חלב חטים ישביעך which equates peace with abundance of plump grain.  Thus, we are wishing upon the marriage peace …
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Verbal Self-Defense Kesuvos 14 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 20th, 2022

  Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses an interesting scenario of the Mamzer Veshasak, which means that a person is accused of being a mamzer, but does not object.  This can be seen as an indicator of admission.  However, in apparent contradiction to this,  the Gemara in Kiddushin (71b) tells us: When two people quarrel with each other, observe which of them becomes silent first. We can assume the silent party is of finer lineage …
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Years and Tears Later: The Price of Lies and the Price of Truth Kesuvos 13 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 19th, 2022

  Our Gemara on this daf continues a discussion of case law where important information was allegedly withheld prior to marriage and discovered later.  In yesterday's Psycholgy of the Daf, we discussed the obligations of others to reveal information. Continuing this theme, we will discuss the halachos and psychology of self-disclosure of flaws prior to marriage. There is a Teshuva of Rav Moshe Feinstein regarding a young woman who was s …
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Honesty and Exaggeration in Shidduchim Kesuvos 12 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 18th, 2022

How much exaggeration is normal when describing a Shidduch? How much should the person himself or herself disclose about flaws? How much should others? We will discuss these matters from a halakhic and psychological perspective over the next two dappim. Our Gemara states that if a man married a woman who was previously married and maintained she was a virgin, even if it turns out that she wasn’t, the husband has no claim that the marriage w …
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Children of Baale Teshuva Kesuvos 11 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 17th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses different scenarios of conversion, such as if parents convert with children, as well as possibly if the child is an orphan and adopted, if he can be converted by the Beis Din and go to a foster family. Because a minor cannot really give consent, there also is a discussion about whether he can renege when he becomes Bar Mitzvah. The Rishonim, including Tosafos, grapple with the legal and halakhic mechanisms that …
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By Your Blood Shall Ye Live Kesuvos 10 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 15th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses a case of a woman who was lacking in menstrual blood, and also possibly those who tend to have less menstrual and virginal blood. On the one hand it is considered an advantage, in reducing questions about Niddah. But it also presents a problem regarding fertility.  This ambivalence about menstruation on a practical level is also discussed in a mystical sense by Rav Tzaddok in Peri Tzaddik (Lag Baomer 5):&nbs …
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Self-Determination, Autonomy and Authority Kesuvos 9 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 15th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph and Rashi (“Ne’eman”) refer to a basic Talmudic principle known as Shavya Anafshei Chaticha Deissura, which means that a person has the ability to declare something to be forbidden based on his belief, even if there is no compelling evidence.  Thus, he must conduct himself as if it is forbidden, even if to outsiders there is no such obligation. The commentaries debate the conceptual underpinning of …
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Attitude of Gratitude Kesuvos 8 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 14th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Beis cautions against making negative and pessimistic declarations, as somehow verbalizing them can cause them to come about.  Jewish tradition most definitely believes in the power of words.  A number of sources that were brought to my attention,, courtesy of Rabbi Moshe Elafant’s sugya shiur on this daf are:   A Teshuva of the Rashbah (Hameyuchas Leramban 286) states that we cannot know sometimes why bad …
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Sex Vs. Intimacy Kesuvos 7 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 13th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the nature of the Blessing over Eirusin (betrothal). According to one opinion, the blessing is a simple one without a concluding blessing.  According to another opinion, the blessing has a closing benediction.  The Gemara suggests the basis of the dispute is about whether we compare the betrothal blessing to a blessing on food or mitzvos, which are short and do not conclude with a blessing, or it is com …
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An Original Slant on an Ancient Practice Kesuvos 6 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 12th, 2022

  In today’s Psychology of the Daf, we are going to discuss an ancient sexual practice from the time of the Talmud, and what it can teach us about sexual ethics in marriage. Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses some technical halakhic aspects of a virgin having intercourse for the first time on Shabbos. Since there can be bleeding, is this considered inflicting a wound, which is forbidden to do on Shabbos?  There are numerous iterati …
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Building the Inner Sanctuary Kesuvos 5 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 11th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph through Beis relates several teachings of Bar Kappara, which at first do not seem linked, but we shall see are connected:   There are two optimal days for marriage, Thursday and Friday. Thursday because the blessing for the fish to be fruitful and multiply was stated (Bereishis 1:22), and Friday because the blessing for Man was stated (ibid, 28).  The preference is for the marriage day to be Friday if not for c …
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Magnification or Focus Kesuvos 4 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 10th, 2022

It’s not fashionable to discuss stereotypical differences between how the genders process and express emotions, because it can lead to dismissing or mocking feminine emotionality. However, in truth there is no shame in having strong and intense experience of emotions, and it offers advantages in terms of the ability to be intuitive and nurturing. There is an interesting Rashash that discusses these gender differences to explain a halakhic d …
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Sinners Count Too Kesuvos 3 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 8th, 2022

To what extent is the sinner given recognition and respect by Torah society. The relationship with the sinner is a complex one with great emphasis placed on the community using social pressure and often legal enforcement to maintain desired behavior. Yet, despite this, there also seems to be a practical acceptance of the existence of sin and sinner, and often Torah society remains accepting and loving as we shall see in today’s discussion. …
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It’s Your Bad Luck Kesuvos 2 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 8th, 2022

In our Gemara’s analysis of responsibility to fulfill a wedding date pledge, they discuss different scenarios of unexpected delays. Depending on whose fault or fate the delay is attributed, it makes a difference in if the man becomes obligated in supporting his wife even prior to the wedding. Thus, if the wedding is delayed due to her becoming ill, the Gemara considers that he may still have to pay her support as if he was the one who becam …
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Only the Shadow Knows Yevamos 122 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 7th, 2022

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph tried to determine if a disembodied voice that was heard could be trusted as valid testimony. One of the concerns is this voice may have come from a demon instead of a human, and so a process to discern between a true human or a demon is necessary. The Gemara asserts that a demon’s shadow is different than a human’s shadow. While both may cast a shadow, a human’s shadow is capable of having a shadow on t …
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Curious Instead of Furious Yevamos 121 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
July 6th, 2022

Curiosity is a powerful relationship tool. We think we know someone else, we think we understand their motives, and we would like to believe we are right and know better. Yet, if we maintain a more curious attitude, especially when we feel frustrated or angry instead of becoming judgmental and indignant, we can turn difficult moments into learning and growth. The Gemara on Amud Aleph relates a story involving the great sages Rav and Shmuel, and h …
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