Ketubot 30: In the Hands of Heaven

March 10, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Malcolm Gladwell, in his bestselling book Outliers, demonstrates how so much of our success is a result of factors beyond our control. While in many areas—place of birth, our genetic makeup—this is obvious, he demonstrates the truth of such even in areas where we may not expect such. Factors such as our year of birth or even our birthday can have huge impact on our success. What in the secular world is called...
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Ketubot 28: Kids Talk

March 09, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  In our last post we discussed the fickleness of memory and how and when one may write down testimony for future use in a court of law.  The last Mishna of the second chapter of Ketubot discusses under what circumstances we may rely on the testimony and memory of a minor. It is a legal assumption that minors lack the maturity to be responsible decision makers.They lack critical thinking skills and in their naivety,...
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Ketubot 20: Keeping Memories Alive

February 27, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our memories are notoriously fickle and even untrustworthy. Yet we have little choice but to rely on such. It is likely due to the unreliability of our memories that Jewish law generally requires two witnesses[1] - who must separately testify - before a court may act. And except for the very basics of the testimony - when, where and who - a witness is not disqualified for saying “I do not know” or for not recalling specific...
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Ketubot 19: Dying for Lying

February 23, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is well known that a Jew must give up his or her life only if asked, or ordered, to violate one of the three cardinal sins of Judaism; idolatry, adultery or murder. To do so for the sake of any other mitzvah renders one “liable for his soul[1]”. “Vechai bayhem”, and you shall live through them (Vayikra 18:5), the mitzvoth of the Torah were meant to enrich and ennoble us in life. Yet in a rather startling...
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Ketubot 11: It's Great to Be a Jew

February 18, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
A legal system is much more than a collection of laws. It signifies the values a society holds dear. When one studies halacha, one is actually also studying philosophy. The Mishne Torah, the great legal code of the Rambam begins not with law, but with philosophy. Without the latter, the former runs the risk of turning into a lists of do’s and don’ts. We might view them akin to taxation laws - something we have to...
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