Thoughts from the Daf

Pesachim 43: Chametz at the Seder

January 13, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In our last post, we discussed the fascinating view of Rabbi Yehuda (at least, as understood by Rashi) that the prohibition of eating chametz on Pesach does not apply to chametz that is owned by a non-Jew. In this post, I would like to discuss a hava aminah, a theoretical possibility, raised by the Gemara that women might not be included in the prohibition of eating chametz, allowing them to feast on some...
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Pesachim 29: Enjoying Some Chametz on Pesach

December 29, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There are few ritual prohibitions as widely and carefully observed than that of the prohibition of eating chametz on Pesach. It is not uncommon for people to start “cleaning for Pesach” weeks or even months in advance of the holiday, ensuring that no chametz is eaten outside of the kitchen. Many a household literally (and unnecessarily, but that is a discussion for another time) turns their house upside down...
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Pesachim 21: Welcome Stranger

December 23, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There is no more oft-repeated command in the Torah than the charge to be kind and sensitive to the ger—ki because[1],  gerim hayeetem, you were strangers in the land of Egypt". Thirty-six times, possibly even forty-six times (Bava Metzia 59b) the Torah exhorts us to treat the ger properly. Clearly, this is a most difficult mitzvah, on both a personal and national level. If it were easy to...
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Pesachim 13: Time for a Joke

December 15, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In describing our Talmudic Sages, one would not put a sense of humour at the top of the list—maybe not even at the bottom. Yet that would be unfair. The Gemara (Shabbat 30b) notes that Rabba would open every shiur with a joke, bringing a smile to the face of his colleagues. Like Jews throughout the generations, our Talmudic rabbis were not averse to telling jokes, though their style was somewhat different than ours. Their jokes...
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Pesachim 8: Bathing In Jerusalem

December 10, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The problem of theodicy—why a benevolent G-d allows so much evil to exist in this world—has troubled thinkers from time immemorial.  The Talmud (Brachot 7a) relates that when Moshe asked G-d to “Make Your way known to me" (Shemot 33:13), he was asking G-d why, all too often, the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. Compounding the problem is that the suffering of the righteous actually calls into question the...
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