Makkot 5: Don't Quote Me

November 19, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When I first started learning Gemara – and as we prepared for tests – we were told not to worry if we got the names of the rabbis wrong. What was most important was to understand the content and the logical arguments put forth. I understand why one may not take off marks for a Talmud beginner who mixes up Abaye and Rava (and to this day I sometimes confuse who says yeush shelo meda’at is still ...
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Makkot 5: A Fatal Mistake

November 15, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And you shall do to them as they sought to do to others” (Devarim 19:19). Edim zomimim, plotting witnesses, are punished by receiving the punishment the victim of their false testimony would have suffered had they not been caught – but only if the court has yet to carry out its verdict. If the verdict had already been implemented before their lie was exposed, the edim...
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Makkot 5: I Don't Believe You

November 12, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The witnesses do not become zomimim, ‘plotting witnesses’, unless they falsify themselves” (Makkot 5a). The law of edim zomimim is a unique subset of invalid witnesses. In a “standard” case of contradictory witnesses, one set of witnesses claims Reuven killed Shimon and a second set testifies that Reuven (or for that matter, Shimon) was with them at the supposed time of...
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An Introduction to Makkot

November 09, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  In the standard editions of the Talmud Bavli in vogue today, there are 63 tractates of Mishna, 37 of which have a corresponding Gemara. The other masechtot dealt with issues that, by and large, were no longer relevant – such as the laws of purity – and hence, no Talmudic discussion ensured. Originally, the number of masechtot totalled 60, with 60 equivalent to the numerical value of...
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