Pesachim 37: Designer Matzah

August 07, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Matzah is the most basic of foods. Mix some grain with water and bake ASAP, and presto! We have the most important course for the most important meal of the year.  The simple nature of matzah can be seen in the ruling that matzah may not be a work of art, designed in fancy shapes or figures (Pesachim 37a). As we find today withketuvot, kiddush cups, and other religious artifacts, people would make special "designer matzah,...
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Pesachim 35: Sleeping Through Class

August 01, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
I imagine I am not the only one who has dozed off during a lecture. While I might manage to pick up a point or two, surely such dozing limits my ability to contribute to the discussion at hand. Yet there are some who can sleep and learn at the same time; some whose minds are so full of learning that even when they sleep, they learn. Reish Lakish taught that dough that was mixed with wine, oil or honey and allowed to leaven would not be...
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Pesachim 34: Land of Darkness

July 31, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Soon after the editing of the Mishna in the land of Israel, Jewish life and learning started slowly shifting towards Bavel. This was set into motion by Rav and Shmuel two of the leading students of Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi - the editor of the Mishna - who headed the great Babylonian learning centres of Sura and Neharda and was exacerbated by the increasingly difficulty of religious life in Israel. There was much interaction between these two great...
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Pesachim 30a: Economic Intervention

July 24, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
On the first page of the laws of Shabbat, the Mishnah Berurah discusses the problem of price gouging by fishmongers. Knowing the desire of observant Jews to eat fish on Shabbat, the merchants would raise the price—confident that with a somewhat inelastic demand curve[1], consumers would pay almost any price to eat fish on Shabbat.  The Mishnah Berurah, following much precedent, ruled that the wealthy who could easily afford the...
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Pesachim 22: Time Well Spent

July 21, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Shimon Ha'amsoni—and some say, Nechemia Ha'amsoni—used to derive [laws] from all the etim (plural of et) in the Torah. When he got the verse et Hashem Elokecha tirah, ‘and you shall fear G-d’ (a verse we read this past Shabbat), he separated himself [from all his teachings]. His students said to him, ‘all those you have derived from et, what shall become of them?...
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