Miriam and the Goring Ox: Bava Kamma 24

June 27, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One would not expect to connect Miriam’s speaking negatively against Moshe, read (at least in the Diaspora) this past Shabbat, with the laws of a goring ox. When studying the story of Miriam we tend to focus, as we should, on the nature of lashon hara, her tragic punishment, the role of Aaron and who exactly was this Cushite woman who Moshe took. But it is her punishment that is of major significance well beyond the story...
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Bava Kamma 8: This Law is Not For Me

June 26, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the basic differences between the religious and civil laws of the Torah is while the former are mandatory the latter are not necessarily so. Couples who marry may not jointly agree to ignore the laws of kashrut, whereas two people can agree to “make a [monetary] condition against the laws of the Torah.” While the Torah requires a worker be paid daily an employee can agree to being paid monthly. Or, to cite another example,...
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Behalotcha: Mr. Humble

It is the rare occasion when the Torah actually characterizes an individual. Rather through an analysis of the Biblical narrative, we are meant to draw appropriate conclusions, nuanced as they may be. It is, for example, the actions of Yosef and his brothers that are described in the text, without the Torah assigning blame for this tragic dispute. Of course this leads commentaries to differing conclusions, which no doubt is the intention of the...
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Nasso: Time for Repentance

Our Torah was given to us on at least two occasions. The first revelation just weeks after the exodus was ineffectual as the people built a golden calf a mere 40 days later. The Torah that we have in our possession today was in actuality given after Moshe succeeded in gaining forgiveness for the people, what we today know as Yom Kippur, a day henceforth reserved for renewing our relationship with G-d. One of the key components of Yom Kippur is...
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Shavuot: A Long Weekend

June 10, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Shavuot this year falls on a Sunday. This rather unremarkable observation is of little import today but had we been living in Temple times, or even in the early Middle Ages, this would have spared us much controversy. As is relatively well known one of the most fundamental, fiercest and far-reaching debates the rabbis faced was the dating of the holiday of Shavuot. It is this debate that eventaully led to the establishment of yom...
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