Bava Metzia 21: Intro to Talmud

October 22, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
I, probably like many of you began my formal study of Talmud learning Eilu Metziot, the second chapter of masechet Bava Metzia. “These are the lost objects one can keep, and these are the ones that one must declare.” (Bava Metzia 21a) For many years I thought this was a rather poor choice as an introductory Talmud text. It deals with complex and abstract issues more suited to law school than elementary. On the first page we...
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Shabbat Chol HaMoed: Let's Skip This Year

October 21, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
"Keep the harvest festival as the year changes" (Shemot 34:22). This (half) verse is the only reference to Sukkoth (or more precisely Chag Ha'aseif, the harvest festival) in the Torah reading that our Sages have ordained for Shabbat Chol Hamoed. It seems like a rather weak reason for this reading. Actually, the Torah reading chosen for Sukkoth seems much more appropriate for Yom Kippur. Its main focus is the aftermath of...
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Sukkot: Fear and Joy

October 16, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
The Jewish year begins with the aseret yemei teshuva, the ten days of repentance. They begin with the strict justice of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Hadin; and culminate on Yom Kippur, with its unique opportunity for forgiveness. The intensity of these days is reflected in our liturgy, our special customs, and in Jewish law, where certain stringencies are recommended only during these ten days. The unique nature of the “High Holy...
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Hazeinu: Straight Talk

October 14, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
 “The deeds of the Mighty One are perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a faithful judge; never unfair, righteous and straight is He" (Devarim 32:4). This statement is recited at every funeral as the mourners, though perhaps feeling distant from G-d, accept the decision of the ultimate Judge. Undoubtedly, this acknowledgement of G-d as the perfect judge is difficult for us to see in this often imperfect, unfaithful, immoral...
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Yom Kippur and Baseball!

October 14, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
“There are those who acquire their world in one moment” (Avodah Zara 18a). One action can define a life. While some people have to work their entire lives to be worthy of entering the World to Come others can acquire their eternal reward in one moment. Such a moment occurred, it seems to me, when Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, announced that he would not pitch the opening game of the 1965 World...
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