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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Pesachim 6: 30 Days Notice

December 08, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the principles of Biblical interpretation is that the Torah is not necessarily written in chronological order, ein mukdam umeuchar baTorah. Thematic considerations are generally more important than chronological ones.  Yet in editing the Mishna, Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi generally does follow chronological order. The shisha sidrei Mishna, the six orders of the Mishna, are written in order. Hence, masechet...
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Pesachim 7: Let the Dough Rise

December 02, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
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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Pesachim 2: Searching for Chametz

November 26, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“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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