Sanhedrin 27: I Love to Sin

August 29, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Over the last few posts (see here and here) we have been discussing those who are disqualified from giving testimony or sitting as a judge on a Jewish court. These disqualifications have come as a result of monetary indiscretions, rendering them untrustworthy in a court of law. They may out-and-out lie, take a bribe (and bribes come in many forms, including many that are non-monetary), or knowingly or not, display bias. But what...
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Sanhedrin 26: Eating Pork at the Food Bank

August 28, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Nachman said: Those who eat davar acher, the other, are pasul, invalid to give testimony” (Sanhedrin 26b). As is often the case, our rabbis used euphemisms when they did not want to let certain words pass their lips[1]. Davar acher – the English parallel is something along the lines of “it”—was our Sages’ way of referring to pork, the symbol of non-...
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Sanhedrin 25: The Non-Kosher Butcher

August 24, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental tenet of the our secular legal system. It finds an antecedent in the rabbinic notion of a chezkat kashrut, that all have a presumption of honesty and hence, are eligible to testify in a court of law. However, one who loses that chezkat kashrut may no longer be trusted in a court of law.  It is on this point that Jewish and Western laws greatly diverge...
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Sanhedrin 24: Off to Vegas

August 23, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And G-d blessed them and G-d said unto them: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land and conquer it” (Breisheet 1:28). These are the first words spoken by G-d to man and are the basis for all human existence. Without people having children, humankind would come to an end. But pru u’revu encompasses much more than physically having children[1]. Part and parcel of this blessing is the obligation to...
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Sanhedrin 24: Down with Bavel!

August 22, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We are all products of—and greatly influenced by—our environments, which is why our Sages put so much emphasis on ensuring that we live in a place conducive to our spiritual and physical well-being (see Sanhedrin 17b and here). It is not only our immediate surroundings that hold great sway over us (and, if we are lucky, we over them) but our broader environment. Those of us who grew up in western, democratic countries have absorbed...
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