Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 140b: Don't Eat Your Vegetables

March 06, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The next time your mother tells you to eat your vegetables, you might try explaining to her that you are just following the advice of Rav Hisda, the third century Babylonian sage. (I doubt your mother will care, but it can't hurt to try.)   "And Rav Hisda said: 'When the son of the house of Rav [i.e., a scholar] does not have a lot of bread  [is very poor], he should not eat vegetables because it whets the appetite...
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Shabbat 145: Home and Away

March 03, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When one studies Talmud, it is easy to forget that Sages quoted on the same page may actually have lived hundreds of years and hundreds of miles apart. A question posed by a third-century scholar in Israel might be answered by a fifth-century scholar in Babylonia. As is to be expected, these two great centers of Torah study developed in slightly different ways; there was even healthy competition between the two. "Rav Chiya bar Abba and Rav...
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Shabbat 139: Guilty as Charged!

March 03, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
While we are unable to discern G-d's ways--and it behooves us to not even try--Talmudic rabbis were not so reticent in ascribing reasons for misfortune. Whether the Rabbis meant it literally, or gave cause to calamity as a means to deliver a message to their generation is not really relevant. What we can gain is insight into their view of the world. There is nothing new under the sun, and the messages of 2,000 years ago are no...
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Shabbat 130a: Taking the Plunge

February 18, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the saddest statements Jews can make is, “It’s tough to be a Jew”. Why would anyone want to be part of a people identified with suffering, death, difficulty, or economic hardship, especially in an era where people are free to choose all kinds of lifestyles? We need to share our feelings of joy, excitement, and possibility with our Jewish children. In a remarkable insight, the Talmud (Shabbat 130a) provide instructions for exciting our...
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Shabbat 118a: Shabbat Meals

February 13, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Make your Shabbat like a weekday, and have no need [to take from] people” (Shabbat 118a). In Talmudic times, it was the norm to eat two meals a day; Shabbat was special in that three meals were to be eaten. Yet one who had enough food for two meals on Shabbat was not to ask for charity to eat that third meal. It is better to treat Shabbat like a weekday and eat less—quantitatively and qualitatively—than to be a recipient of charity.This is so...
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