Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 89a: Sinai and Sin'ah

January 08, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Years ago, I heard Dennis Prager note that, while the Talmud spends six double-sided folio pages discussing the permissibility of eating an egg laid on Yom Tov, the Talmudic discussion of anti-Semitism consists of about three lines. Our great sages were concerned about how Jews are meant to live their lives, not what our enemies think of us. For the Talmud, the answer to the age-old question of anti-Semitism was as simple as it was profound. “...
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Shabbat 75: Sewing and Science

December 26, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is the 39 melachot that define the observance of Shabbat. Yet a listing of the melachot does not appear until midway through the seventh chapter of masechet Shabbat, and for many melachot, the discussion lasts no more than a few lines. In discussing the prohibition of sewing, the Talmud records the teaching of Rav Zutra ben Tobiah in the name of Rav that if one pulls a thread to tie together two pieces of clothing, he must bring a sin...
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Shabbat 63: Battle Clothes

December 16, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The sixth chapter of Shabbat begins with the issue of what ornaments a woman—and to a lesser extent, a man—may or may not wear on Shabbat in a place with no eiruv. The Sages feared that, upon meeting people in the street, one might take off the ornament in order to show it to one’s friend, and inadvertently violate the prohibition of carrying on Shabbat. Thus, for example, the Mishnah forbids a woman to wear a “City of Gold”, a beautiful piece...
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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...
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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...
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