What is Life Worth?: Gittin 45

February 07, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
  In the first row of the remarkably preserved Jewish cemetery in Worms (one we will please G-d visit on this summer's Journey through Jewish History) one will see gravesite of the Rav Meir the son of Baruch, the Maharam of Ruteneberg, the leading Rabbinic figure in Germany in the 13th Germany and considered to be the last of the Tosasfists. Immediately next to him is the grave of Alexander ben Salomon Wimpfen the...
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Mishpatim: Talking Points

February 05, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me". This popular aphorism reflects the notion that it is physical harm to others that is most dangerous. As we all know this is a simplistic and ultimately dangerous notion. Emotional and psychological harm can be and usually does have deeper and longer lasting impact. The severe Torah prohibitions on gossip and slander reflect this reality. Inflicting non-physical hurt...
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Changing My Mind: Gittin 41

February 02, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the marks of a great person is the ability to change one’s mind. While such may end the career of a politician[1] it demonstrates intellectual maturity. The willingness to integrate new material and ideas into our worldview brings vitality and increased creativity to the issues at hand.    Openness to other ideas especially those of one’s frequent “opponents” is far from common. It may be uncommon...
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Yitro: A Joint Project

January 29, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
What kind of book is the Torah and who is it meant for? Rashi begins his commentary to the Torah, with the supposition that the Torah is primarily a legal book instructing the Jewish people how to lead their lives. This is the premise of his query as to why the Torah starts with the story of Creation and not with the first mitzva given to the Jewish people. In answering his question Rashi fundamentally changes our...
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Making the Pruzbul Work: Gittin 36

January 25, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
  One of the most famous rabbinic enactments is that of the pruzbul, enacted by the great sage Hillel, which allowed a loan to be collected even after the sabbatical year. The pruzbul is often touted as an example of the flexibility of Jewish law and the boldness of Hillel who established the pruzbul in seeming contravention of Biblical law which states that any outstanding loans at...
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