Pesachim 64b: You're Out of Here!

August 30, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Akavya ben Mehalelel is best known for the teaching, “Focus on three things, and you will not come to the hands of sin: know from where you come, to where you are going, and before Whom you will give a reckoning and accounting” (Pirkei Avot 3:1). This teaching should be seen in the light of another teaching of his. The Mishnah records four (rather obscure and technical) areas of Jewish law where Akavya disagreed with the accepted...
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Pesachim 62: To Teach or Not to Teach

August 28, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Rav Simlai came in front of Rav Yochanan and asked him to teach him Sefer Yuchsin, the Book of Lineage. He [Rav Yochanan] asked him where he was from. 'Lod,' he replied. 'And where do you live?' 'In Neharda'. 'We [Rav Yochanan responded] do not teach it, neither to Lodians or Nehardeim; how much more so to you, who are from Lod and reside in Neharda'" (Pesachim 62b). Talmudic stories...
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Pesachim 60: The Forest and the Tree

August 26, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Some of the most fundamental mitzvoth of the Torah are stated in the vaguest of terms, with few clear guidelines as to how they are to be fulfilled. The central mitzvah of Sefer Vayikra, and perhaps of the entire Torah, is to "be holy", yet the meaning of holiness is left undefined. One will not find any Talmudic discussion of the laws of holiness. The closest we get to such is Maimonides' inclusion of the "Book of Holiness...
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Pesachim 56: Medical School

August 25, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The greatest blessing one can have is that of good health. And aside from the three cardinal sins of adultery, idolatry, and murder, no law is as important as that of pikuach nefesh, the mandate to prolong life. Some of our greatest sages and scholars—most notably Maimonides—were doctors, and it is not by chance that Jews are disproportionately represented in the medical field. Just as teaching Torah is the greatest...
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Pesachim 54: The Heart of Darkness

August 22, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Man, unique amongst all creations, was blessed by G-d with a soul. We are not just physical creations, doomed to death in due course, but spiritual beings whose souls can live forever. The distinction between something physical and something spiritual is the capacity for sharing without diminishing. Physical things cannot truly be shared; even if I "share" my chocolate bar with you, while I may be a nice guy, I have less chocolate for...
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