Thoughts from the Daf

Sanhedrin 88: Let's Have a Debate

October 22, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Every argument that is for [the sake of] heaven's name is destined to endure. And if it is not for [the sake of] heaven's name, it is not destined to endure” (Avot 5:19). In a tradition as rich, varied and nuanced as ours, disputes over the interpretation of Torah are not only inevitable, they are desirable. Debate is a crucial component of Torah, allowing us to sharpen our reasoning and reach new understandings of...
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Sanhedrin 76: No Time to Waste

October 18, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Do not profane your daughter and make her a harlot” (Vayikra 19:28). One has to wonder exactly whom the Torah is addressing. What kind of father (or mother) would turn her daughter into a harlot? It is for this reason that our Sages (also[1]) understood the verse as referring to some lesser violation; yet as is the way of the Torah, these lesser violations are “upgraded”, teaching us to take these more minor sins...
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Sanhedrin 74: Lechaim!

October 11, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The entire house of Israel is commanded to sanctify the Name” (Laws of the Fundamentals of Torah, 5:1). The language is striking, and the context – the opening words (for the general public[1]) of the Mishneh Torah – instructive, indicating the importance of the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem. Many associate this mitzvah with the obligation to give up one’s life rather than transgress the three cardinal sins of...
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Sanhedrin 72: I Love My Money

October 09, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And you shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions” (Devarim 6:5). Clearly, if we are obligated to love G-d with all our heart and soul—the verse Rabbi Akiva invoked as he gave up his life to sanctify G-d’s name (Brachot 61b)—we are obligated to love G-d with all our possessions. While this should be obvious, it is in fact not, as there are those who love...
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Sanhedrin 71: It Works in Theory

October 03, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Fundamental to Jewish theology is the belief that both the Written Law and the Oral Law were given by G-d at Sinai. While the finite Written Law, i.e., the Torah, contains the words of the Divine Lawgiver, the ever-expanding and infinite Oral Law reflects man’s interpretation of the Divine text.  The perspectives of the Divine and humans are very different; in fact, the human mind cannot fully, if at all, fathom the Divine. While we...
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