Parshat Hachodesh: Timing is Everything

March 24, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
The first of Nissan is a most special time in Jewish history. It was on this date that Moshe and Aharon began preparing the people for their exodus from Egypt. It is thereby "the head of the months" (Shemot 12:2), marking the beginning of national Jewish history. While the actual Exodus did not take place until the 15th of Nissan, the process of redemption began on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, leading the haggadah to raise the possibility that...
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Bava Batra 30: Don't Start With Me

March 19, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
If you are going to pick a fight with someone, it’s best to know who your adversary is. There are certain people with whom it just doesn’t pay to start up. “A man [Reuven] said to his friend [Shimon]: What are you doing in my field? He said to him, I purchased it from ploni [Levi] and have been here for the [three] years of a chazakah” (Bava Batra 30b). As we discussed in our last post, a claim...
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Ki-Tissa: Where is Moshe

The mark of a great leader is the ability to inspire others—even in their absence. A great company operates at peak efficiency even when the CEO is on vacation, just as a great school functions smoothly even if the principal is away. Similarly, a parent’s role is to raise children so that they will become independent. When children and grandchildren embody the values of their ancestors long after they have passed away, we see the mark of a truly...
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Bava Batra 29: My Friend's Friend

March 16, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Canadian law requires one to keep tax records for six years, after which time they can be destroyed and government audits are no longer possible. Talmudic law was not quite as onerous, requiring one to keep supporting documentation for up to three years only. The opening Mishna of the third chapter of Bava Batra (28a) teaches that one can acquire ownership of real estate by demonstrating that one has lived on the property or worked the...
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Purim: For the People

March 12, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
What should one do when the needs of the Jewish people conflict with the needs of Judaism? When the only way to keep our people Jewishly involved is to bend (or perhaps break) the norms of a traditional way of life? The Jewish people have been debating this question since the Enlightenment. With the ghetto walls crumbling, most Jews sought out new ways to express their Jewishness, unwilling and perhaps unable to maintain traditional frames of...
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