Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 46a: Going Barefoot

November 28, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the inspiring things we see in the many stories found in the Talmud is the realistic portrayal of our great sages. We see not only much greatness, but also the occasional lapses. Our sages were not averse to displaying their feelings, and were unafraid to both heap praise and scorn upon their colleagues. “Rav Avia visited Rava's home. His feet were full of mud, [yet] he sat down on a bed before Rava. Rava was annoyed and wanted to bother...
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Shabbat 49a: The Wrong Reason

November 27, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Talmud teaches that everything is dependent on mazal, “even the Sefer Torah in the ark”. Some sifrei Torah are used week in and week out, while others only see the light of day on Simchat Torah. So, too, certain mitzvoth “get lucky” and are widely observed, whereas others are somehow neglected. And mitzvoth that enjoy widespread observance in one generation may be less fortunate in another.“Tefillin require a clean body like Elisha, the...
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Shabbat 33: Let's Talk

November 21, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the differences between Talmudic rabbis and those of the post-Talmudic era is the “ability” of the former to link “crime and punishment”, or more specifically, sin and consequence. This is something we find distasteful, even blasphemous (and if we don't, we should), as we, unlike prophets, do not know the working of the Divine. Thus Rav Soloveitchik, for example, considered it a desecration of G-d’s name to attribute the Holocaust to sin...
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Shabbat 31b: One-Foot Judaism

November 12, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most famous Talmudic stories is that of the potential convert who conditioned his conversion on whether or not he could be taught the Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai, bothered by the chutzpah of this non-Jew (imagine going to a nuclear physicist and asking to learn all of physics while standing on one foot!), “pushed him with the construction board in his hand”. Hillel, non-plussed by this ludicrous request,...
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Shabbat 31: No Need to Cram

November 08, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
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? Were you involved in...
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