Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 157: Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Shabbat

March 12, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Masechet Shabbat deals primarily with the 39 forbidden activities on Shabbat--especially that of carrying. Yet, as is the norm for Talmudic discussion, one subject leads to another, so that we have a wide range of discussion. As we go through its pages, we find the primary discussion of Chanukah; the laws of brit milah; debates on the role, if any, of astrology; the discussion of mama'ad har Sinai (the giving...
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Shabbat 151: Waiting for Mashiach?

March 10, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Since at least the time of the Rambam, Jews have yearned for the coming of the Mashiach. Many Jews went to their deaths asserting the twelfth principle of faith of the Rambam: Ani Maamin, I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even if he tarries, I will await him daily.   It may therefore come as a surprise that, at least according to some Talmudic views, the coming of the Messianic Age is...
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Shabbat 147b: Sin City

March 07, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Rav Helbo said: The wine of Perugitha and the water of Diomsith cut off the Ten Tribes from Israel" (Shabbat 147b). As Rashi explains, Perugitha was the name of a country that produced great wine, and while he does not explicitly say so, Diomsith had wonderful bathhouses. Rashi goes on to explain that the ten tribes spent their time seeking pleasure, thereby neglecting Torah. This caused them, to use a modern term, "go...
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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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