Chukat: Time to Talk

Parshat Chukat marks the transition from the generation that left Egypt to the one that would enter the Land of Israel. This was a transition marked by death and thus, the Torah's description of the laws of purity and impurity stemming from contact with death form the opening unit of the parsha. The leaders of the nation - Miriam, Aharon and Moshe - would not be spared the fate of the people and would also have to die in the desert. They would...
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Korach: Holy and More Holy

The Torah was "edited" with great precision. Narrative and law are often intertwined; one sheds light on the other. While our tradition teaches that the entire corpus of Biblical Law was given at Sinai, many, if not most, of the laws are recorded in multiple places in the Torah, each instance of repetition adding nuances and shadings of meaning. The principle of ein mukdam umeuchar baTorah, events in the Torah...
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Zevachim 48: Go North

June 15, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“The ox and goat of Yom Kippur are slaughtered in the north” (Zevachim 47a). As we discussed in our last post, the fifth perek of masechet Zevachim details where in the Temple each of the sacrifices were to be slaughtered, who could eat them, until when they could be eaten and what was to be done with their blood.  With the sacrifices of Yom Kippur offering atonement like no other, it makes...
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Zevachim 47: I Agree!

June 10, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Other than belief in G-d, there is almost nothing in Judaism that is not subject to debate. Does G-d have a body? Should Biblical stories be understood literally? Is the Mishkan (and korbanot) an ideal or a concession to human weakness? What will the Messianic era look like? On and on it goes. And this before we even discuss the thousands of halachic debates that appear on almost every page in the Talmud. The opening teaching...
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Shelach Lecha: An Old Name

Of the twelve men sent to bring back a report about the land of Israel, only one of them—Yehoshua—has previously been mentioned in the Torah. During the war against Amalek, Yehoshua served as the commanding officer leading them into battle. This military experience would serve him well for his mission forty years later when he would lead the Jewish people in their conquest of the land of Israel.  We also meet Yehoshua when he...
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