Yoma 62: Luck of the Draw

January 14, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For years, one of the most anticipated dates on the Jewish calendar was Rabbi Soloveitchik’s annual teshuva derasha given during the aseret yemei teshuva. He would keep thousands spellbound for hours as he wove together halacha, aggadah, derush, and more, expounding on the Rambam’s laws of repentance. His insights—so beautifully crafted and fitted together, and unnoticed before—would seem so...
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Yoma 54: Love in the Temple

January 10, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The relationship between G-d and the Jewish people is often compared to that of a husband and wife. Full of love and even desire, it is meant as a lifelong bond--which for the Jewish people means eternity. The occasional spat, where there is some degree of distance, is to be expected; but the love remains. Even in the tragic case of divorce--when the Temple was destroyed, and we were exiled from our land--G-d promised that He would take us back...
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Yoma 53: Please Shorten Your Prayers

January 08, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Mashechet Yoma delineates the special Temple service performed on Yom Kippur in great detail--and includes much discussion relating to the daily running of the Temple. It is easy to forget that the Beit Hamikdash was, first and foremost, "a house of prayer for all the nations" (Yishayahu 56:7). As the kohen gadol exited the kodesh hakodashim, "he would offer a short prayer...he would not make the...
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Yoma 52: There's No Way to Know

January 06, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Great literature lends itself to multiple, even contradictory, interpretations. And the Bible is--in addition to everything else--great literature. "Isi ben Yehuda said that five verses in the Torah ein lo hechreh, have no definitive reading: shet (lifted up), mesukadim (shaped like almond blossoms), machar (tomorrow), arrur (cursed), v...
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Yoma 48: Try a Little Harder

December 31, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the major debates in Jewish law is whether mitzvoth require kavanah, intent to fulfill the mitzvah (see for example Brachot13a). As a general rule, those mitzvoth which are dependent on actions--for example, shaking a lulav or eating matzah--are mitzvoth for which kavanah, while ideally present, is not required; after all, I did what I had to do. Those mitzvoth for which it is our inner thoughts or feelings that...
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