Niddah 2: Shammai and Hillel

November 18, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
It is hard to imagine more influential institutions of Jewish learning than those of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. These two great schools set in motion much of the foundation of the Oral Law. It was regarding their some 316 disputes recorded in the Mishna that a heavenly voice declared, “These and those are the words of the living G-d” (Eiruvin 13b).  With the Torah consisting of so much that is gray, no one view can capture...
Continue Reading »

VaYera: Moving Out of Town

November 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fundamental issues of debate amongst observant Jews regards the degree of openness with which one meets the surrounding culture. Should we “ghettoize” ourselves, trying to avoid the negative and pernicious influences of the outside world? Or must we engage the world about us, influencing it and being influenced by it, even if it entails some degree of risk? One must weigh many factors in determining the answer to this...
Continue Reading »

Niddah: Blood and Water

November 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“And you shall live by them” (Vayikra 18:5). The mitzvot of the Torah are meant to enhance life, adding meaning and sanctity to our sojourn on earth. The Torah is an eitz chaim, a tree of life, providing beautiful fruit year after year, generation after generation. Torah and death are incompatible. Thus kohanim, those tasked – at least in Temple times – with the teaching of Torah, were...
Continue Reading »

Lech Lecha: In Defence of Terach

November 08, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our rabbis famously debate the righteousness of Noach. Was he a tzadik only relative to the corrupt society in which he lived, or was his righteousness that much greater because he attained it in such in a corrupt generation? While they debate the righteousness of Noach, there seems to be little debate regarding Terach. He was an idolater—not just any standard idolater, but a purveyor of idols thereby spreading idolatry far and...
Continue Reading »

Masechet Kelim: Time for New Dishes

November 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Seder Taharot opens with masechet Kelim, vessels, which at 30 chapters and 254 mishnayot is far and away the largest of the 63 tractates of the Mishna[1]. To fully understand the masechet, one needs great knowledge of “realia”, understanding the day-to-day of life during the Temple period—specifically, the types, sizes and shapes of various vessels in use throughout the Mishnaic period. The focus of...
Continue Reading »

Pages