Shevuot 45: Where is My Pay?

January 15, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“All who take an oath, take an oath and are exempt [from payment]” (Shevuot 45a). Violating an oath ranks amongst the most serious of transgressions. Despite—or perhaps because—an oath involves no physical act of wrongdoing, swearing falsely is categorized along with the sins that carry the punishment of karet, excision, and the death penalty (Rambam, Hilchot Teshuva 1:2). Its seriousness is such that we are required to swear in G-d’s...
Continue Reading »

Shevuot 30: You Go First

January 09, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In a recent highly publicized murder trial in Toronto, the jury was not told that the accused – who acted as his own lawyer - had recently been convicted of murder in a prior case (and has another murder trial pending). This is a common practice in the legal systems of the West, where it is felt that such knowledge will bias the judgment of the jury, depriving the accused of a fair trial.  By being exposed to past misdeeds of the one...
Continue Reading »

Shevuot 30: A Woman Dayan

January 07, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The oath of testimony applies to men, but not to women” (Shevuot 30a). Beginning with the fourth chapter of masechet Shevuot, the Talmud focuses on those oaths that are taken in the administration of justice. The Mishna begins with the laws of shevuat ha’edut, the oath of witnesses.  “And if one sins, in that he heard the voice of adjuration, he being a witness, whether he hath seen...
Continue Reading »

Shevuot 29: A Flying Camel

January 03, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Lo tissa, do not raise[1] the name of the Lord your G-d in vain” (Shemot 20:7). After affirming the existence of the G-d who took us out of Egypt and who is the one and only G-d, the third of the aseret hadibrot warns us not to take G-d’s holy name in vain. His name is to be reserved for davening, learning and, as we learn in masechet Shevuot, taking oaths. Thus, our Sages understood this verse – in addition to its...
Continue Reading »

Shevuot 15: For the Sake of Heaven

December 31, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Whether one does much or one does little, [it matters little] provided one directs their heart towards heaven” (Shevuot 15a). The immediate context of this teaching is in reference to the offering of sacrifices, which can be brought from flour, birds or meat. While one might think that it is more praiseworthy to bring a meat sacrifice – offering a sacrifice to G-d is no place to try and cut corners – such is not the...
Continue Reading »