Monday, October 23, 2006

Daf Yomi - Sukkah 51 - Highlights

1. The Gemara cites a dispute regarding who held the musical instruments when the Leviim were singing the sacrificial songs. Rabbi Meir maintains that servants of the Kohanim held the musical instruments and Rabbi Yose maintains that Israelites with pure lineage held the musical instruments. Rabbi Chanina Ben Antignos maintains that the Leviim themselves held the musical instruments. The practical difference regarding who played the musical instruments is whether we elevate the status of one who sang on a platform in the Courtyard of the Bais HaMikdash to the level of one who was genealogically fit and that he could receive Maaser. (51a1)
2. Rabbi Yirmiyah bar Abbah maintains that the dispute between the Tanaaim regarding the musical instruments overriding Shabbos refers to the song at the Simchas Bais Hashoeva. Everyone would agree, however, that the instruments used to accompany the sacrificial song would certainly override Shabbos. (51a1-51a2)
3. The Mishna states one who did not see the joy of the Simchas Bais Hashoeva was never witness to true joy in his life. On the second night of Sukkos they would enter the courtyard of the Bais HaMikdash and light candelabra that were very high and the light from the candelabra would illuminate the entire Jerusalem. They would use the worn out trousers and belts of the Kohanim for the wicks. The pious and saintly people would dance and juggle torches in the center and sing songs of praise to HaShem. The Leviim would play with various musical instruments and the Kohanim would sound trumpets in various locations throughout the courtyard. The Mishnah states that the Kohanim would declare that they are not sun worshippers. Rather, they worshipped Kah, i.e. HaShem. (51a3-51b1)
4. The Gemara states that one who did not witness the glory of Jerusalem never saw a beautiful city in his lifetime. If one did not see the Bais HaMikdash when it stood, he never saw a glorious edifice in his life. This refers to the Bais HaMikdash that was built by King Herod. It was fashioned with stones of green, blue and white marble and it gave the appearance of the ocean waves. This edifice was so beautiful that had Herod plated it with gold it would have detracted from its beauty. (51b2)
5. The Gemara states that the synagogue in Alexandria was a sight to behold and there was once a time when the synagogue accommodated one million and two hundred thousand people. The Gemara relates that ultimately the entire Jewish community was killed by Alexander of Macedon, and the reason they were punished so harshly is because they violated the biblical prohibition not to return to Egypt. (51b2-51b3)
6. The Gemara states that in the magnificent synagogue of Alexandria, a bimah, a wooden platform, was located in the center of the synagogue and the sexton would stand there and wave a flag to notify the congregation that they should answer amen. (51b2)