Thoughts from the Daf

Bava Batra 91: Avraham Avinu and Mother's Day

May 11, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Here is a great trivia question to try on a friend. Who was Noach’s wife? What was Abraham’s mother’s name? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know. While the Torah tells us whom Eisav married, the Torah is silent regarding the wife of Noach. While we know who the mother of Amalek is, we are left to guess whom the mother of Abraham might be.  The Torah is not a history book, nor a biography of our founding fathers (...
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Bava Batra 88: Sorry, No Teshuva Allowed

May 04, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In our last post, we discussed the Gemara’s claim that the punishment for false weights is greater than that for sexual immorality. As the Gemara explains, while one can do teshuva for sexual sins, one cannot do teshuva for dishonest weights and measurers. The Gemara never explains why teshuva is possible for one but not the other. One might even argue the exact opposite. Is teshuva really possible after adultery? One cannot just...
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Bava Batra 88: Watch your Weight

May 02, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
All too often, we equate being a religious Jew with the observance of Shabbat, kashrut and taharat hamishpacha. Without at all minimizing these crucial identifying markers of religious observance, unless they are coupled with basic morality—honesty in one’s business dealings, avoiding unnecessary dissension, and basic  menschlichkeit—they are not only of little import, but their observance may...
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Bava Batra 75: Reason to Believe

April 24, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We live in an age of great skepticism—often for good reason. In a time where science-with its demand for rigorous proofs, detailed experimentation and peer review-has contributed so much to the advancement of life in so many areas, asking someone to accept unverifiable claims is almost ludicrous.  The “scientific” approach has always been the hallmark of Talmudic and halachic discourse[1]. Views must be backed up with...
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Bava Batra 60: Please Don't Marry Me

April 08, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The third chapter of Bava Batra is some 30 pages long, making it one of the longest in the Talmud. It is focused on the rules of acquisition of property: land, fields, courtyard, parapets, roofs, balconies, pits, cisterns, rights-of-way and the like. Claims and counterclaims are analyzed and debated as the Talmud seeks to clarify who owns disputed property. As important as real estate is to today’s economy and to one’s personal...
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