Nedarim 22: A Much Smaller Book

June 29, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Imagine if instead of twenty-four books the Tanach consisted of only six. Strange as it sounds that was the original plan. "Rav Adda the son of Rav Hanina said: Had Israel not sinned, only the five books of the Torah and the Book of Joshua would have been given to them" (Nedarim 22b). At Sinai G-d taught Moshe all the Torah that the Jewish people should have needed. If not for the sin of the spies the Jewish people would have...
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Nedarim 21: It's Just Talk

June 23, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The 1960's sitcom Get Smart[1] had as one of its heroes Hymie the robot. Lacking full human intelligence, he understood language only literally, something that made communication with him most difficult (and comic). A command to answer the door was met with a strange look and the response, "but the door did not ask anything".    Language is much more than translating words; words reflect the...
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Nedarim 20: Shame on Me

June 17, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In the siddurim commonly in use today, on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh, we pray that we should be blessed to have "chaim she'ein bahem busha uchlima, a life that has no shame or disgrace". Being shamed is a most awful experience, and to embarrass someone in public is equated with murder (Bava Metzia 58b).    Yet other versions of this prayer actually say the exact opposite, with the prayer...
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Nedarim 8: Let's Learn

June 15, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The mitzvah of Talmud Torah has a dual objective. First and foremost, one learns so one will know how to act: "an ignoramus cannot be a righteous person" (Avot 2:5). However, learning is so much more than a utilitarian function enabling us to perform mitzvoth. One can often learn how to do mitzvoth by observation without any formal education. Talmud Torah is primarily how we connect to the word of G-d, helping us to gain an...
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Nedarim 7: Time to Say Hello

June 09, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In our second to last post of Masechet Ketubot we discussed the decision of Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi to put  the Oral Law into writing. Having had the Oral Law in writing for the past 1,800 years, it is difficult for us to conceive how radical an innovation this was. It was one that fundamentally changed the nature of Torah, "violating" its very structure[1].   Rebbe did not actually have solid legal authority to do...
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