The Comfort Zone: Sotah 44

December 14, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Part of the purpose of the harsh treatment of the Sotah is convincing the suspected adulteress to admit her infidelity. By doing so she is given a divorce and can move on with her life as no further punishment is given. We assure her that if she is innocent she has nothing to fear, but repeatedly warn her of the dire consequences i.e death, if she refuses to admit her guilt.     Human nature being what it is such warnings do...
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I Thought I Was Humble: Sotah 40

December 10, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  In our last post we discussed the Talmudic tendency to group together sayings of one particular sage quoting another. In discussing various prayers the congregation might say while the kohanim are blessing the people, the Gemara records a debate as to whether they should be said everywhere, only in the Temple, or not at all. Rabbi Avahu, living in Caesarea well after the destruction of the Temple, commented...
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Please Bless Me: Sotah 38

December 08, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Originally meant as an oral “text” the Talmud features a number of mnemonic devices to aid in recall and memorization. Thus unrelated topics may be grouped together because of similarities in language. Probably the most famous of these is a series of ein beins found in the Mishna of the first chapter of masechet Megillah. After teaching that ein bein, there is no difference between Adar...
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Do Not Pray: Sotah 37

December 03, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  It is an amazing aspect of the human condition that two people can see the same thing yet see it most differently. That is likely why the Torah both requires and at the same time allows us to accept the testimony of two witnesses. Even if one is not (knowingly) lying we cannot rely on just one witness to convict a criminal or even to actually require monetary payment[1]. If a second witness corroborates that of the first we can assume...
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Language Barriers: Sotah 33

December 01, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  One of most bitter and divisive (Jewish) fights of the 19th century was that regarding the use of the vernacular in the synagogue - whether in prayer or even in speech. To say the opposition to such was vehement would be an understatement. Add in the fact that the notion of a rabbinic sermon in the vernacular was copied from the Protestant service and we one can begin to understand the bans and calls for excommunication. ...
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