Avoda Zarah

Avodah Zarah 18: Too Much Torah!

February 15, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
While we often tend to view the ancient Romans as evil enemies out to eradicate Judaism and kill Jews, the truth is that the relationship between Israel and Rome was a complex and inconsistent one. The Romans destroyed the Temple, but they allowed the academy at Yavne to grow, develop and flourish. While they martyred the asara harugei malchut, many of our Sages—foremost amongst them Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi—had a warm and...
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Avodah Zarah 18: The Power of the Letters

February 13, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the differences between Ashkenazic and Sephardic culture, both religiously and otherwise, is in their view of the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of the Name, specifically as it relates to martyrdom.  The Rambam, born in Spain in 1138, begins the legal portion of his monumental code[1] discussing the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem: “The entire house of Israel is commanded to sanctify the name of G-d” (...
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Avodah Zarah 17: Just One Minute

February 07, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the highlights of learning with Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt”l, were his occasional “press conferences”, where we could ask any and all questions of Rav Aharon. I recall that at one of these sessions, someone asked if there are any tragic figures in Tanach. Rav Aharon defined a tragic figure as one who, despite a lifetime of fantastic accomplishments, is remembered not for what they accomplished, but for a single...
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Avodah Zara 7: Let's Get a Second Opinion

February 04, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When seeking out expert opinion on any matter, it is irresponsible not to get a second opinion. It is the rare—and foolhardy—person who will undergo a major operation without consulting with various specialists. And those who want to ensure that they are making the best possible decision seek out opposing views, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing arguments before making a final decision.  It is for this...
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Avodah Zara 5: It Takes a Long Time

January 31, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Forty years is a long time. In Biblical numerology, the number 40 indicates transformation. Forty is the number of days it takes for a fetus to develop. It is the length of time that delineates one generation from the next. The flood lasted 40 days, bringing with it a new world order; and Moshe spent 40 days on Sinai transforming the spiritual world. The Jewish people became a nation only after being strangers in a foreign land for 400 years,...
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