Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 31: Farming and Faith

April 30, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah is full of mitzvot relating to farmers. Whether one is plowing, planting, or harvesting, the Torah has clear guidelines to direct us. One must separate wheat and the vine, avoid plowing with two different animals, leave the corner of the field for the poor, take our first fruits to Jerusalem, and give some of our produce to the kohen, levi and the poor. We must not pick up that which we might drop, nor...
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Shabbat 31: Awe and Fear

April 22, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your G-d demand of you but l’yirah, to revere the Lord your G-d, to walk only in His paths, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul” (Devarim 10:12).  There is little, our tradition teaches, that is more important than yirat Hashem, awe[1] of the Creator. Imbued with it, we are only too happy to “submit our will to...
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Shabbat 25: Who is Wealthy

April 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot!” (Avot 4:1). This teaching of Ben Zoma is undoubtedly one of the best known, most difficult and least-observed teachings in rabbinic literature. Man, by his very nature, is never satisfied with his lot. “One who has one hundred, wants two hundred, and one who has two hundred wants four hundred” (Kohelet Rabba 1:13).  Yet this desire for more is most necessary, as...
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Shabbat 17: Murder in the Beit Midrash

April 02, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Talmud quotes some 316 debates between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. “Since both these and those are the words of the living God”, the Talmud (Eiruvin 13b) asks, “why was the law established in accordance with Beit Hillel?” The answer of the Talmud is not because they were smarter—the Talmud actually says the students of Shammai were sharper—but rather, it was because “they were agreeable and...
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Shabbat 13: Fasting or Feasting

March 30, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When it was still forbidden to write down the Oral Law, one of the very few written texts was that of Megillat Taanit, the scroll of fast days. This Megillah lists 35 days on which it was forbidden to fast, as they were days commemorating joyous events in Jewish history. Of the 35 days listed, only two remain applicable today, that of Purim and Chanukah. The others lost all meaning with the destruction of the Temple.  “Our Rabbis...
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