Alive in Our Memories: Shabbat 30

November 06, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The rabbis wanted to bury the book of Kohelet, as its words contradict one another” (30b). The Talmud notes that, in addition to contradicting itself, the book by Shlomo HaMelech contradicts the words of his father, David.As an example, it quotes the verse, “and I praise those who are dead more than those who are alive” (Kohelet 4:). While this verse is—at least on the surface—quite depressing, it fits clearly within a certain strand of thought...
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Shabbat 22: Lights Out!

November 02, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In an age before electricity, having light at night was no simple matter. While various forms of lamps were in use, their effectiveness was limited. Simply put, most people went to bed at nightfall and were up by the crack of dawn. Of course, on Friday night, this was not feasible; and the Talmud spends much of the second chapter of mashechet Shabbat detailing which wicks and oils may and may not be used to kindle the Shabbat (and Chanukah)...
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To Forget Is Human: Shabbat 12

October 24, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Human nature is to be forgetful, even in the midst of doing something. This human frailty is what leads the Mishnah (11a) to rule that a tailor may not go into the street with his needle nor may a scribe go out with his quill on Friday afternoons just before dark, lest they forget and accidentally carry their materials on Shabbat (in a place which has no eruv). Yet, the Gemarah (12a) rules that one may go out while wearing tefillin late on...
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Shabbat 10: In Your Court

October 19, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
While the prelude to the giving of the Torah is the establishment of a court system (see Shemot 18), it would seem that having to actually use the justice system is less than ideal. In a perfect society, people would be honest, forgiving, and not fight for every right that is theirs. Spending one’s time learning Torah is surely a much greater pursuit than listening to litigants argue. And thus, the Talmud records that Rav Hisda and Rava bar Rav...
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Shabbat 10a: Stop Praying Already

October 18, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Two of our most fundamental mitzvoth are those of Tefillah, prayer and Talmud Torah, the study of Torah. Yet there has long been a tension regarding which is of primary importance. The view that "if only one would pray the entire day" (Brachot 21a) cannot be easily reconciled with G-d's words to Joshua that, "The book of law shall not depart from your mouth and you shall meditate in its words...
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