Thoughts from the Daf

Erachin 4: More Priestly Obligations

July 14, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In our last post, we began our discussion as to why in so many disparate cases, one might have thought that kohanim are exempt from a mitzvah and hence, must be specifically obligated in that mitzvah.  “All are obligated in shofar: kohanim, levi’im and yisraelim” (Erachin 3b). It is hard to imagine that kohanim might be exempt from the mitzvah of shofar. However, when one considers...
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Erachin 3: Priestly Obligations

June 28, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In our opening post on masechet Erachin we discussed how the use of the word hakol, everybody, comes to obligate one in a mitzvah, someone whom we might otherwise have exempted. We discussed no fewer than ten examples appearing on the first page alone.  Moving to the second page of the masechet, the Gemara continues on this same theme, where the use of the word hakol ...
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All are welcome to Masechet Erachin

June 24, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Amongst the most obscure laws of the Torah are those of erachin, which form the subject matter of the last chapter of sefer Vayikra. The Torah details the amount of money that one must give to the Temple treasury when one proclaims his or her erech, loosely translated as one’s value. The amount is determined by one’s age and sex with no reference to one’s personal attributes. In contradistinction, if...
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Bechorot 35: Child's Play

June 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The toy industry has come a long way since Talmudic times. Perhaps the most popular "toy" during the Talmudic era was that of a chicken’s head. It was the need for the chicken’s head—I’m not quite sure how the game was played—that serves as the background to one of most famous and important principles of the laws of Shabbat, namely, that of p’seik reisha.  This principle is...
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Bechorot 34: Here Comes A Cow

June 11, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When a kosher animal gives birth to a bechor, a firstborn male, there is an inherent conflict of interest that arises. The Torah instructs that one is to give the animal—potentially worth thousands of dollars—to the kohen, who then offers it as a korban. Furthermore, the owner must watch over this animal for a period of between 30 days and three months, during which time he may not work the animal or...
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