Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 31: No Need to Cram

November 08, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Prepping for the Test: Shabbat 31 Having the questions of an exam in advance would seem to be a big advantage. Yet often, such advantages are frittered away as we are apt to work a little less hard-thinking that, with questions in hand, it will be easy to do well.“Rava said, at the hour that man is brought in for [final] judgment, we say to him: Did you conduct your business affairs faithfully? Did you establish set times for the study of Torah...
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The Joy of Mitzvoth: Shabbat 30

November 06, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Rav Moshe Feinstein noted that one of the tragedies of American Jewish life was the common notion that it is difficult to be a Jew. Children saw their parents struggling, and even if they meant it as a display of dedication, such affirmations of the difficulty of being Jewish were a big turn-off to children, most of whom left observant Jewish life.“The Divine Presence rests neither through gloom, nor through laziness, nor through frivolity, nor...
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Alive in Our Memories: Shabbat 30

November 06, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The rabbis wanted to bury the book of Kohelet, as its words contradict one another” (30b). The Talmud notes that, in addition to contradicting itself, the book by Shlomo HaMelech contradicts the words of his father, David.As an example, it quotes the verse, “and I praise those who are dead more than those who are alive” (Kohelet 4:). While this verse is—at least on the surface—quite depressing, it fits clearly within a certain strand of thought...
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Shabbat 22: Lights Out!

November 02, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In an age before electricity, having light at night was no simple matter. While various forms of lamps were in use, their effectiveness was limited. Simply put, most people went to bed at nightfall and were up by the crack of dawn. Of course, on Friday night, this was not feasible; and the Talmud spends much of the second chapter of mashechet Shabbat detailing which wicks and oils may and may not be used to kindle the Shabbat (and Chanukah)...
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To Forget Is Human: Shabbat 12

October 24, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Human nature is to be forgetful, even in the midst of doing something. This human frailty is what leads the Mishnah (11a) to rule that a tailor may not go into the street with his needle nor may a scribe go out with his quill on Friday afternoons just before dark, lest they forget and accidentally carry their materials on Shabbat (in a place which has no eruv). Yet, the Gemarah (12a) rules that one may go out while wearing tefillin late on...
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