Pesachim 87b: We Want Converts

September 22, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We generally tend to view exile from the land of Israel as punishment for our sins, an apparent truism reinforced during the Yom Tov mussaf that begins, "because of our sins, we were exiled from the land". Yet, like all tenets of Judaism, there is much more complexity involved; one cannot simply equate exile with sin and call the discussion over. "Rabbi Elazar said: The Holy One, blessed be He, did not exile Israel among...
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Pesachim 68b: Fasting or Feasting

September 10, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) records a debate as to the proper way to celebrate Yom Tov. Rabbi Eliezer says that one must make a choice; we must either “eat and drink, or sit and learn”, whereas Rabbi Yehoshua says, “Divide it—half for eating and drinking, and half for the beit midrash”. Rav Yochanan (living three generations later) explains that this argument is actually rooted in contradictory Biblical texts...
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Pesachim 68: Timing Is Everything

September 08, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The korban pesach entailed many steps, both before and after its slaughter; and the Mishnah lists those activities that may, or may not, be carried out on Shabbat. Those actions that could have been done prior to, or after, Shabbat do not override Shabbat. One may not, for example, bring the animal from outside the techum on Shabbat, nor may one barbeque the meat on Shabbat itself. When erev Pesach fell on a Friday,...
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Pesachim 66: People Power

September 02, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the underlying pillars of democratic thought is confidence in the people to make the right choices, and in leaders to respect those choices. In a healthy democracy, people are well informed, allowing for vigorous debate; and leaders have the best interests of the state at heart. The will of the people is constricted by the Constitution, which reflects the core values that are sacrosanct—and as such, can be changed only with great...
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Pesachim 66a: A Humble Lesson for Hillel

September 01, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
While Korbanot tzibbur, public offerings, were sacrificed on Shabbat and Yom Tov--and serve as the basis for our davening mussaf on these days--private sacrifices were not.  Similar to a public offering, the korban pesach was brought at a fixed time. On the other hand, the obligation to bring such rests on the individual, leading to uncertainty as to whether it may be brought on ...
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