(Today's daf is 40.)
The mishna lists the restrictions on Yom Kippur: we may not eat or drink, wash, anoint, wear (leather) shoes,1 or have intimate relations. Rabbi Elazar says that a king and a bride may wash their faces and a pregnant woman may wear shoes, but the sages forbid these. What are the exact parameters of "may not eat or drink"? Whoever eats food to the size of a large date or drinks a mouthful is guilty. All kinds of food are counted to the size of the date and all liquids are counted to the size of the mouthful -- we're talking totals here, not saying that you can eat up to the size of a date and then do it again if you wait long enough.
The g'mara discusses the "date" measure, looking to other cases where there is a minimum amount of food to count. (Surely the maximum you can eat on a fast day must be less than the minimum needed to count as "eating" for another purpose.) The g'mara talks about how much you need to eat in order to qualify for grace after meals, though the first case that came to my mind was how much matzah you have to eat at the seder to fulfill your obligation. These minimums are the volume of an egg, and there's discussion in the g'mara here about whether a large date is larger or smaller than an egg. I think for this reasoning to work it must be smaller, so we have a continuum from "no food" to "limit for a fast" to "minimum to fulfill a positive food obligation" to "plenty".
Finally, I note that today serious questions are raised about taking pills on Yom Kippur, though a pill is certainly (I hope!) smaller than a date. So these size rules have probably been refined since the talmud. (Also, this is for pills that are in some sense optional, like your daily vitamin or aspirin for your caffeine headache. If it's medically necessary you not only can but must take it regardless of the fast.)
1 The mishna here says "lace on shoes" and doesn't mention leather, though leather is discussed elsewhere in this tractate. Since it says "lace" this raises the question of slip-on shoes; the answer is that all leather shoes are forbidden whether laced, slip-in, sandals, or other, but I don't know where this is resolved.
Seven days before Yom Kippur they remove the high priest from his house and move him to the cell of the counselors. Another priest is prepared so that, should something happen to the high priest, another can take over. A substitute wife is also prepared for the high priest lest his wife die, because the torah says he makes atonement for himself and his house, and "his house" requires a wife. (But only one wife because it says "house", not "houses"; there is some complexity in the discussion here.)
During these seven days they provide elders of the beit din (rabbinic court), who read before him the order of the service and urge him to memorize it, because perhaps he forgot or never learned. On the day before Yom Kippur they bring before him all the animals that will be offered, so he will recognize them and be familiar with what is to be done. Late in the day leading up to Yom Kippur they prevent him from eating much, lest he eat too much and fall asleep. They then take him to the elders of the priesthood and make him swear that he will not change a single thing from what they have taught him. Then he (if learned) or others (if not) would expound on torah, and read from Job, Ezra, Chronicles, and sometimes Daniel. And they would keep him up all night occupied with torah.
(It may sound like they're treating him as a child or an ignoramus. Perhaps they are (under Roman rule the position of high priest was sold to the highest bidder, for instance). But it's also important to remember that this service is essential for the people's relationship with God and that we've seen what happens when instructions for service aren't followed correctly -- Aharon's sons Nadav and Avihu brought aish zarah, an "alien fire", and were struck down. Had they been representing the whole people, what might have happened? Even the most learned must study the haggadah at Pesach, and even the most learned high prist must study the Yom Kippur service.)
(Today's daf is Nazir 26.)
The mishna teaches: if two groups of witnesses testify about a man, one saying that he vowed to become a nazir for two years and the other that he vowed for five, how do we resolve the difference? Beit Shammai rules that because there is conflicting credible testimony he is not a nazir at all -- we can't tell, so we eliminate both. Beit Hillel, on the other hand, says that five includes two -- those who say five agree that he vowed for at least two. Thus he is a nazir for two years because everybody agrees on that much. (20a)
I wonder if the "at least this much" approach applies to torts too, like disputed loans or damages. It seems reasonable that it should.
A nazir is forbidden, among things, to consume wine (or grape juice). If a man says: "I declare myself a nazir on the condition that I can drink wine", he becomes a nazir and is forbidden wine -- a condition on a vow can't contradict torah law. If he says "I didn't know that a nazir is forbidden wine", he is still forbidden (but R' Shimon releases him from his vow). If he says "I knew that a nazir is forbidden wine but I thought the sages would give me permission because I cannot do without wine", he is released from his vow (but R' Shimon binds him to it). Why is he released if he thought he would get an exemption? Because we don't hold people to vows broken under pressure. (We accept his claim that he can't live without wine and thus we know he will violate the vow.) (11a-b)
I want to ask you, Internet, to please stop taking all of this [supposed evidence] at face value. Please stop taking things like lists of names stolen from a company as a reason to abuse others — online or offline. When you see a story about someone doing something you think is either wrong or even just lame, it’s not a reason for you to abuse, stalk or attack someone you don’t know.
The mishna teaches: if a man says "I vow to be like Shimshon" (with some additional language) he becomes a nazir like Shimshon. This is different from one who vows to become a lifetime nazir. How so? A life-nazir may thin his hair with a razor when it becomes burdensome (and then bring animal offerings), and if he becomes ritually impure he brings an offering. A nazir like Shimshon, however, may not thin his hair, and if he becomes ritually impure he brings no offering. The mishna then goes on to say that the default length of a nazir vow, if not specified, is 30 days. (4a, 5a)
When our land agent had waited most of the day for the delivery and seen others go by who were after us in line, she went to inquire. (They had cell-phone numbers and email addresses for both of us, and she had personally checked in Friday and all seemed fine then. No calls or email were received.) When she asked after our trailer, she was told that it was unsafe, that they'd told us this in the past (not true), and that they would not move it. If anybody had ever suggested to me that my house was endangering their drivers, I certainly would have inquired further about what needed to change -- I would never knowingly create a dangerous situation like that. It took a while, but we eventually learned that the person in charge thinks it's too tall, wide, and heavy (factors that haven't changed since it was built).
He did not care that they've moved it every year for 15 years. He did not care that his predecessor, who'd been doing this for ages, approved the plans before we built. (Dave is ill and no longer involved with the running of Pennsic.) He did not care that he was springing this on us after land grab instead of getting in touch in advance or saying something when I paid the rent (in person). When our land agent said (after checking with the rest of the camp) that none of us had ever been told anything about a safety issue, he dismissed that.
When I spoke with him I was respectful and cooperative, taking a "what can we do to make this better?" approach. It didn't help. I'll try to talk with him again mid-Pennsic when things have calmed down, in case he was just fried from a long week of camp prep and said some things he didn't mean, but my hopes aren't high. I am also keenly aware that he holds all the cards.
Pennsic is a large event that requires a lot of work. Thanks to us they are now able to hold other large events, and do. We're less important than we once were because of that. And the individuals who built this relationship are largely absent now, after nearly 40 years of holding the event at this site. To those who came after it seems to be strictly a business relationship, while to the previous generation I think there was also friendship and respect.
Pennsic is large, and I suspect that there is no real harm -- actual or perceived -- in disenfranchising the very small number of people who unintentionally cause them extra work. Towing trailers, especially ones with buildings on them, is extra work. There aren't that many of us, and I've learned this has happened to some other people too. If we stopped coming, even if our entire camps stopped coming, would they care? I don't see that it would damage their bottom line. More than 11,000 people pre-registered for Pennsic this year; they don't need the few homeowners.
There is a Silverwing's law to the effect that only Pennsic is worth the amount of trouble that only Pennsic requires. I don't see why that wouldn't be true for both us and the Coopers. And perhaps both some of them and some of us are coming to the conclusion that it's not true -- it's not worth the amount of trouble that it requires. I'm speculating, of course, but this would not surprise me. The Coopers have a lock on Pennsic (by mutual consent with the SCA) for as long as they want it, but that doesn't mean they want each and every one of us.
I hired an outside tow truck (AAA to the rescue!) to move the house to our camp for this Pennsic, and have booked the highly-capable driver for the return trip at the end of the event. That takes care of this year. As for the future... we'll see.
In the g'mara, R' Yirmiyahu says: at nightfall he must be released from his vow (for "today") by a sage. Why? Because if he had instead said "one day" instead of "today", he would be forbidden for a full 24 hours, and in that case we wouldn't want him thinking that "day" vows expire at nightfall, lest he violate his vow unintentionally. (60a)
I'm surprised that the list includes day, week, month, and seven-year cycle, but not year. One could reasonably argue that it's obvious because a new year begins with a new month, so you'd follow the Rosh Chodesh rule, but I don't see that discussion here. (I haven't read ahead, though, so maybe it's coming.)
I don't see any discussion here about whether "your house" (etc) follows the owner -- if you make such a vow and then your neighbor moves, are you forbidden to enter his new home (since you are no longer barred from the old one)? Or does a vow only apply when the object of said vow was known at the time it was made?
The Soncino translation has a note that elaborates the connections among these seven items (source unknown to me):
The general idea of this Baraitha is that these things are the indispensable prerequisites for the orderly progress of mankind upon earth. The Torah, the supreme source of instruction, the concept of repentance, in recognition that ‘to err is human’, and hence, if man falls, he needs the opportunity to rise again; the garden of Eden and the Gehenna symbolising reward and punishment, which, without conceding a purely utilitarian basis for ethical striving, are nevertheless powerful incentives thereto; the Throne of Glory and the Temple, indicating that the goal of creation is that the kingdom of God (represented by the Temple) should be established on earth as it is in Heaven; and finally, the name of Messiah, the assurance that God's purpose shall be eventually achieved.1 Before you ask: this last proof-text sounded unlikely to me, so I checked the text. As suggested above, "has existed" is interpretation, not in the text, and it seems pretty clear to me that the name being talked about is Solomon's, not the mashiach's. I don't know how the rabbis get from that verse to this interpretation.