Naso: Counting Our Blessings

A Jew is commanded to recite one hundred blessings each and every day (Menachot 43b). We need constant reminders to ensure that we recognize the blessings of G-d and to remind ourselves that in all of our actions we are to reflect the Divine image. While most of the brachot we make consist of man acknowledging G-d as the master of the world, the priestly blessings are an exception to this pattern. In this particular blessing...
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Bechorot 35: Child's Play

June 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The toy industry has come a long way since Talmudic times. Perhaps the most popular "toy" during the Talmudic era was that of a chicken’s head. It was the need for the chicken’s head—I’m not quite sure how the game was played—that serves as the background to one of most famous and important principles of the laws of Shabbat, namely, that of p’seik reisha.  This principle is...
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Bechorot 34: Here Comes A Cow

June 11, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
When a kosher animal gives birth to a bechor, a firstborn male, there is an inherent conflict of interest that arises. The Torah instructs that one is to give the animal—potentially worth thousands of dollars—to the kohen, who then offers it as a korban. Furthermore, the owner must watch over this animal for a period of between 30 days and three months, during which time he may not work the animal or...
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Shavuot: A Forced Torah?

June 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Our attitude towards Torah is a most fickle one. On the one hand, the Jewish people demonstrated great faith in following Moshe into a barren desert and it is this we recount as we plead for G-d's mercy on Rosh Hashanah. On the other hand, these same people complained at every turn in that same desert. We jumped at the opportunity to accept the Torah, instinctively declaring "na'aseh v'nishma"—yet...
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Bamidbar: What's in a Name?

Sefer Bamidbar opens with names and numbers, a theme that continues throughout the book; hence its name, Chumash Pekudim, the book of counting. Apparently, names are much more than mere identifiers. A name represents the essence of a person. "In the merit of not changing our names were we redeemed from Egypt", claims the Midrash. At first glance, it seems quite strange and remarkable that the keeping of our...
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