Taanit

Taanit 10: To Fast or Not to Fast

June 29, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
Sukkot marks the beginning of the rainy season, and Rabbi Eliezer opines that we should start saying  masheev haruach umoreed hageshem starting the first day of Sukkot. While Rabbi Yehoshua does not disagree that, in theory, Sukkot is the correct starting point, "since rain on Sukkot is a sign of a curse", he ruled that we should push off the recital of masheev haruach until Shemini Azeret—which is the...
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Taanit 9: Give So You Can Get

June 26, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
"If not for my covenant, day and night, the laws of heaven and earth, I would not have created" (Yirmiyahu 33:25). Classical Jewish thought saw the spiritual and physical worlds as parallel ones working in tandem. Weakness in one area impacted on the other. It is readily apparent how physical weakness limits our ability to grow spiritually—one who is hungry or persecuted is unlikely to have much energy for spiritual pursuits. But...
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Taanit 7: The Wrong Reason

June 23, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
It is hard enough to do what is right. Our wants, desirers, egos, social pressure, and the like often get in the way of acting properly. Even when we do the right thing, our motivation may not be the purest. We may act the way we do as a method of receiving the accolades of others; for honour, wealth, or acceptance in a social group.    Our Sages understood this difficulty, teaching that "a person should involve themselves in...
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Taanit 7: Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

June 21, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
Living in Canada, it is hard to get excited about rain. Often it puts a damper on nice summer plans. Even in Israel, where water is so much more of a precious resource, modern methods of irrigation and desalination have allowed the much smaller amount of rain that has fallen in many recent years to go almost unnoticed. Such was not the case in Talmudic times. As we have previously noted, the primary theme of Masechet Ta'anit is the elaborate...
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Taanit 4: An Iron Fist

June 17, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the most popular images in our tradition is that of a tree. Its many component parts reflect the diversity of our community. Some, like the roots of the tree, are strongly connected to our way of life and are impervious to any winds that may be blowing above. Others, like the leaves, are hanging on for dear life; and others, like the branches of the tree, fall somewhere in between. A tree offers fruit, shade, beauty, and is good for the...
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