A Peace of Torah: Gittin 59

February 21, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Perhaps the most famous Talmudic story is that of the convert who wants to learn the entire Torah while standing on one foot. For good reason Shammai threw him out of his home yet Hillel famously responded "what is hateful to you do not do to others, all the rest is commentary, go and learn." (Shabbat 31a) This is a beautiful and profound answer, much more than we generally realize.    While Hillel's answer...
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Don't Get it in Writing: Gittin 60

February 17, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  “Vekatav lah sefer krietoot”, and he shall write for her a book of separation (Devarim 25:1). A get must be in writing. This is in contradistinction to a wedding in where an oral declaration accompanied by a gift from the man to the woman binds the couple together. It is speech that brings people together and the written word that can often separate us. When one has something important to say...
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What is Life Worth?: Gittin 45

February 07, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  In the first row of the remarkably preserved Jewish cemetery in Worms (one we will please G-d visit on this summer's Journey through Jewish History) one will see gravesite of the Rav Meir the son of Baruch, the Maharam of Ruteneberg, the leading Rabbinic figure in Germany in the 13th Germany and considered to be the last of the Tosasfists. Immediately next to him is the grave of Alexander ben Salomon Wimpfen...
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Changing My Mind: Gittin 41

February 02, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the marks of a great person is the ability to change one’s mind. While such may end the career of a politician[1] it demonstrates intellectual maturity. The willingness to integrate new material and ideas into our worldview brings vitality and increased creativity to the issues at hand.    Openness to other ideas especially those of one’s frequent “opponents” is far from common. It may be uncommon...
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Making the Pruzbul Work: Gittin 36

January 25, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  One of the most famous rabbinic enactments is that of the pruzbul, enacted by the great sage Hillel, which allowed a loan to be collected even after the sabbatical year. The pruzbul is often touted as an example of the flexibility of Jewish law and the boldness of Hillel who established the pruzbul in seeming contravention of Biblical law which states that any outstanding loans at...
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