Bava Metzia

Bava Metzia 61: Let's Eat Some Rodents

December 13, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Teaching in a community school, I often hear from many of my students that they are “not religious.” After all, they don’t observe the laws of Shabbat, nor do they keep kosher strictly (or maybe even at all). They rarely go to shul and, with the exception of Yom Kippur, do not observe the fast days. This may all be true – and there is, as befits a community school, a wide range of observance – but I tell them that...
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Bava Metzia 61: A Free Loan

December 08, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of most difficult laws to comprehend, both technically and philosophically, is the Torah prohibition against charging interest – the subject of the fifth chapter of Bava Metzia. From an economic perspective, interest is no more than rent on money; and if one can charge rent for all else, why not for money? Furthermore even granted that the charging of interest should be prohibited, it is most difficult to understand why the borrower...
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Bava Metzia 59: A Broken Oven

December 06, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“If an oven is cut into rings, and sand is placed between the rings, Rabbi Eliezer says it is pure. But the sages say it is susceptible to impurity. This is the tanur shel achnai, the oven of Achnai” (Bava Metzia 59b). It is hard to imagine a more obscure, technical and pretty much irrelevant debate than that of tanur shel achnai. It is a debate of triumph and tragedy; of the responsibility of man to determine the...
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Bava Metzia 59: Torah Is Not in Heaven

December 04, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most famous, powerful and tragic stories in all of Talmudic literature is that of the excommunication of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, known as Rabbi Eliezer Hagadol. The story outline is well known, though many of the details are not. Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages had a debate regarding tanur shel achnai (more about that later- and PG in our next post). In order to demonstrate the correctness of his opinion, Rabbi Eliezer...
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Bava Metzia 58: Verbal Abuse

December 01, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Just as there is ona’ah, oppression, regarding commerce, so too there is ona’ah, oppression, regarding words. One should not say to him, ‘How much is this object?’ if he does not want to buy it. If someone was a penitent, one should not say to him, ‘Remember your former actions.’ If someone is the child of converts, one should not say to him: ‘Remember the deeds of your ancestors.’ As is...
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