Divrei Torah

VaYishlach: Where Was Rivka?

December 04, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fascinating (and, at times, frustrating) aspects of the Torah is how much information it does not tell us. We know nothing of Abraham’s first 75 years, are left in the dark regarding most of Moshe’s first 80 years and so many of the laws of the Torah are written in a way that is somewhere between obscure and incomprehensible. Of course, this is intentional; and analyzing what makes it into the text and why, and what does...
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Pesachim 7: Let the Dough Rise

December 02, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the requirements our Talmudic Sages set for the receiving of semicha, rabbinic ordination, was the ability to speak clearly (Sanhedrin 5b). We are all familiar with brilliant people who are very poor teachers, unable to clearly explain complex matters to their students. While they may make great contributions to their respective fields, they are not the ones meant to teach others. Torah is no different. It is much more...
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Vayezei: Making One Pray

November 27, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And G-d saw that Leah was hated, and He opened her womb" (Breisheet 29:31). Apparently, Leah—as was the case with Sarah, Rivka, and Rachel—was meant to have difficulty conceiving, but as "compensation" for being hated, G-d granted her easy conception. The inability to have children when one desperately wants to can be a source of great sadness and suffering. How one reacts to such a predicament can be quite...
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Pesachim 2: Searching for Chametz

November 26, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“On the eve of the fourteenth, we search for chametz by candlelight” (Pesachim 2a). I fondly recall hiding pieces of chametz all over the house and then helping my father, z”l, find them as we began the formal preparations for Pesach. While not as “rewarding” as hiding the Afikomen, bedikat chametz, the search for chametz, is much more important.  The reason we do so is...
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An Introduction to Masechet Pesachim

November 24, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The task of editing involves critical decision-making. Beyond questions of language and syntax, an editor must decide what to include and what to exclude, and how much prominence to give to any particular story. This is doubly true when editing an anthology of material from multiple sources spanning hundreds of years, the task that lay before Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi, the final editor of the Mishna. So vast were the rabbinic texts before him that...
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