Masechet Sukkah exposes our students to the practical elements of Chag Hasukkot, focusing on the various laws and obligations incumbent upon us during this important holiday. Laws relating to dwelling in a sukkah, as well as the taking of the Four Species (Arba Minim) are covered. Students also explore the proper procedure to be followed when an opportunity for a mitzvah arises while one is already involved in another mitzvah. Which takes precedence? How do we determine the value of a particular mitzvah? This increases the awareness of the importance and core relevance of mitzvot to our lives.
Masechet Makkot introduces our students to the value the Torah places on human life. As explained in our Masechet, the Torah mandates setting up a system of exile for those who accidentally cause the death of another person. The Talmud is careful to point out that this is only applicable when there is some element of negligence involved. Careful analysis of the relevant passages guides us to an understanding of the care one is expected to exhibit when even the possibility of rendering harm to others may exist.
What are the core beliefs of the Jewish people that might, on occasion, even supersede the value of life itself? How do these issues compare to the many other commandments which may be pushed aside to save a life? What are the general guidelines which have guided us on this topic throughout our lengthy and difficult history? Is it permitted to save a life by killing another? These are just some of the Halachic and philosophical issues which we cover in this Masechet.
Our study of the tenth perek, chapter, provides understanding, meaning, and relevance to various mitzvot, such as kiddush and havdalah, which are recited every Shabbat and chag. Even seemingly common and mundane tasks, such as setting the Shabbat table, have customs and intricacies which students examine and discuss in depth in this perek. Students also delve into Chag Pesach, with its wonderful laws and unique customs, to make sense of what might otherwise be a rather perfunctory mitzvah performance. We have found that this clearly enhances the entire holiday experience.
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