Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 56: Rabbinic Cover-Up

December 07, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Interpreting Scripture is no easy feat. One of the difficulties in understanding biblical literature is to figure out what parts are to be taken at face value and which are to be understood in a more symbolic fashion. While we take it for granted that physical descriptions of G-d are anthropomorphisms, such was not the case before the Rambam eradicated the notion of a physical G-d from our conception of the Divine. The wide-ranging nature of...
Continue Reading »

Shabbat 54b: Minding Others' Business

December 03, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The cow of Rav Elazar ben Azaria used to go out on Shabbat with a strap between its horns, against the will of the rabbis”. Shabbat is the day of rest, both for ourselves and for our animals; and we must not allow our animals to carry that which we ourselves may not carry. There is much discussion about what constitutes animal “clothing” (which is allowed), and what is considered a burden (and hence forbidden). The rabbis, in apparent...
Continue Reading »

Shabbat 46a: Going Barefoot

November 28, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the inspiring things we see in the many stories found in the Talmud is the realistic portrayal of our great sages. We see not only much greatness, but also the occasional lapses. Our sages were not averse to displaying their feelings, and were unafraid to both heap praise and scorn upon their colleagues. “Rav Avia visited Rava's home. His feet were full of mud, [yet] he sat down on a bed before Rava. Rava was annoyed and wanted to bother...
Continue Reading »

Shabbat 49a: The Wrong Reason

November 27, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Talmud teaches that everything is dependent on mazal, “even the Sefer Torah in the ark”. Some sifrei Torah are used week in and week out, while others only see the light of day on Simchat Torah. So, too, certain mitzvoth “get lucky” and are widely observed, whereas others are somehow neglected. And mitzvoth that enjoy widespread observance in one generation may be less fortunate in another.“Tefillin require a clean body like Elisha, the...
Continue Reading »

Shabbat 33: Let's Talk

November 21, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the differences between Talmudic rabbis and those of the post-Talmudic era is the “ability” of the former to link “crime and punishment”, or more specifically, sin and consequence. This is something we find distasteful, even blasphemous (and if we don't, we should), as we, unlike prophets, do not know the working of the Divine. Thus Rav Soloveitchik, for example, considered it a desecration of G-d’s name to attribute the Holocaust to sin...
Continue Reading »

Pages