Pesachim 11: Telling Time

July 11, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The halachic legal system is much more than a set of abstract principles or technical details. It incorporates factors such as human psychology (something that is so impactful during the mourning process), human error, and probability analysis. These extra-legal aspects of the law can be seen in three Talmudic debates, which appear back-to-back-to-back, that discuss the prohibition of chametz. The first step in...
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Pesachim 9a: When In Doubt...Eat

July 10, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Two verses that contradict each other, until a third verse is found and reconciles between them". This 13th and last of the interpretive principles of Rabbi Yishmael highlights the many contradictions inherent in the Torah. Torah mirrors life, and recognizing the complexity of both is so important that our rabbis placed this message into the daily siddur. "Lo b'shamayim hee, it [Torah] is not in heaven"; and...
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Pesachim 7a: Who Carries Your Water?

July 04, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Rav Yisrael Salanter, the 19th century founder of the mussar movement, was asked by his students what the most important concern is when baking matzah. With the severe prohibition against eating chametz and the haste needed to ensure that the flour does not become leavened, there is much to worry about. Rav Yisrael replied, "Be careful to ensure that the water porters struggling to earn a living are not made to carry heavy...
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Pesachim 4a: The Rent is Too High

June 27, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Landlord-tenant disputes are the bread and butter of many a lawyer. No law can account for any eventuality, and the inherent conflict of interest whenever money is involved makes such disputes commonplace. "They asked of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak: One who rents a house to a friend on the 14th [of Nissan]; upon whom is the obligation to check for chametz?" (Pesachim 4a). With the obligation to check for chametz...
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Pesachim 3b: Story of a Bigmouth

June 26, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Great leaders are great strategists. The Talmud (Pesachim 3b) relates that a certain non-Jew was bragging of how he used to travel to Jerusalem to eat the korban pesach. Under ordinary circumstances, that would be very nice, as non-Jews may also offer sacrifices in the Temple. However, the korban pesach, the pinnacle of celebration of the holiday of the national formation of the...
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