Thoughts from the Daf

Eiruvin 26b: Rules Are Made to Be Broken

April 21, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Talmud as a whole, and especially the Mishna, is first and foremost a vast corpus of Jewish law. Yet in studying this wide-ranging text, one would be hard-pressed to find any material on Jewish legal theory. Jewish law is primarily case-based, and a legal theorist would find the Talmudic approach most unusual. Occasionally, the Talmud will summarize a series of laws with the statement, zeh hakelal ("this is the...
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Eiruvin 21b: Rabbi Akiva's Water

April 10, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is hard to imagine one more dedicated to Torah than Rabbi Akiva. Despite the fact that he did not start learning until the age of forty (or more likely, because of this), his diligence was unsurpassed. It was to his Beit Midrash that Moshe Rabbeinu was transported from Sinai, as it was Rabbi Akiva who would derive "mountains and mountains of law" from the crowns on top of the letters in the Torah (Menachot 29b)....
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Eiruvin 19: Abraham to the Rescue

April 07, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"G-d wanted to give merit to the Jewish people; therefore, He increased for them Torah and mitzvoth". A Jewish way of life offers so many opportunities for mitzvoth. We accumulate mitzvoth--and hence, merit--for such things as saying good morning to a passerby, conducting a business transaction honestly, showing up in shul to hear shofar, eating a meal on Shabbat, and many other activities that are both easy and...
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Eiruvin 19a: Going to Gehenom

April 05, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Rav Yirmiya ben Elazar said, there are three entrances to Gehenom: one in the desert, one in the sea, and one in Jerusalem" (Eiruvin 19a). The Talmud finds scriptural support for this from the narrative of the earth swallowing up Korach and his supporters in the desert, the description of Yonah crying out to G-d from the depths of the ocean, and from the verse in Isaiah, "Whose fire is in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem...
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Eiruvin 17a: Pesach and the Salt of Sedom

March 31, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Four obligations were nullified in a [military] camp" (Eiruvin 17a). The Torah goes to great lengths to ensure that the Jewish army fulfills the biblical mandate that "your camp shall be holy" (Devarim 23:15). The laws of ba'al tashchit, the wanton destruction of property, are recorded specifically in regard to a war situation (how much more was human life to be valued); sanitation standards had to be...
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