Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 3: Timely Questions

October 15, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
I had the privilege of learning in Rav Herschel Schachter’s shiur at Yeshiva University for four years, in the days before he was universally recognized as one of the outstanding Torah sages. His impact on my learning is immeasurable. One of the most striking things I learned in his shiur is how to say, “I don’t know”. We learned that there is no embarrassment in not knowing – even for great scholars. This humility is a most important, yet often...
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Shabbat 2: Waiting Outside

October 10, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Much of Masechet Brachot deals with non-legal matters - extolling the importance of prayers and blessings and recording many stories involving our great sages, to cite two main themes. While many of the laws impacting on our daily rituals are expounded upon, there is little of the intense and detailed argumentation over points of law we find in other places in the Talmud.As we move to Masechet Shabbat, we immediately notice a shift to more...
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Brachot 61: For a Worthy Cause

October 05, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The story of the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva is well known. Defying the orders of the Roman government not to engage in Torah study, Rabbi Akiva literally had his flesh ripped off with steel combs – yet was relieved to fulfill the command to love G-d with “all one’s soul”, dying with the shema on his lips.What is perhaps less well known is the discussion he had before his death with Papas ben Yehuda. The latter’s warnings to Rabbi Akiva as to the...
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Brachot 59: What a Blessing

October 05, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most well known blessings is that of dayan emet, the blessing said upon the death of an immediate relative accepting G-d as the true judge. It is a statement of great faith in G-d, Who “gives life and takes it away – let His name be blessed”. Less well known is the ruling that if the deceased parent was wealthy, the inheriting child makes a second blessing. This blessing is none other than a shehechiyanu, the bracha in which we thank...
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Brachot 55: Turning Dreams into Reality

September 30, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Talmud spends quite a number of pages discussing dreams. Taking their cue from the Bible itself, they put great stock in the significance of our dreams. They understood that our thoughts during the day have great impact upon our dreams, and knew that every dream has some elements of untruth to it. The Gemarah goes to great lengths to demonstrate the power, not so much of the dream itself, but how it is interpreted: "All goes according to the...
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