Thoughts from the Daf

Sanhedrin 6: Truth or Peace?

July 25, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Thus said the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth [month] (17 Tammuz ), and the fast of the fifth (9 Av), and the fast of the seventh (Tzom Gedaliah, 3 Tishrei), and the fast of the tenth (10 Tevet), will be to the house of Judah for joy and gladness, and happy festivals; and love truth and peace” (Zecharia 8:19).  Zecharia looks forward to a day when the days of tragedy for the Jewish people will become days of...
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Sanhedrin 5: Professional Courtesy

July 24, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
How much would you be willing to sacrifice for the honour of another? Some money, a little bit of time perhaps. But few are those who would be willing to give up a graduate degree or professional advancement for the sake of someone else’s honour. And Jewish law does not demand such, even for the honour of a parent[1]. Nonetheless Rav, the founder of the great yeshiva in Sura, or at the very least his teacher, Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi, was...
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Sanhedrin 4: Please Read it Out Loud

July 23, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Yochanan said: The Holy One, blessed be He, established the covenant with the Jewish people only because of the Oral Law, as it says (Shemot 34:27), ‘ki al pi, because of these [oral] words G-d established the covenant with you’” (Gittin 60b). The primacy of the Oral Law is for both practical and ideological reasons. On a practical level, so much of the Torah is incomprehensible without the...
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Sanhedrin 3: Please Lend Me Some Money

July 21, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Dinei mammonot, monetary law [is adjudicated] with three [judges]; gezeilot vechavalot, theft and assault, with three [judges]” (Sanhedrin 2a). The Gemara is puzzled as to the need to mention gezeilot vechavalot—are they not included in the category of monetary law?   Quoting Rabbi Avahu, the Gemara answers that yes, they—but only they—are included in dinei...
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An Introduction to Sanhedrin

July 19, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The opening Mishna of Masechet Sanhedrin explains the workings of a three-tiered court system. One handled monetary law, and consisted of three judges; one was for capital offences, and consisted of 23 judges; and one dealt with national issues such as borders or war and peace, and consisted of 71 judges. It is this court of 71 that is known as a Sanhedrin, from the Greek word synedrion, meaning a council.  Explicating the...
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