Thoughts from the Daf

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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Shabbat 105b: Anger Management

January 31, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the foundational laws of Shabbat is that only productive acts are prohibited; “all who destroy are exempt” (Shabbat 105b). At times, a seemingly destructive act is prerequisite for a constructive act, rendering such prohibited. Included in the 39 melachot of Shabbat are, “destroying to build”, and “tearing in order to sew”. But “one who rends his garments in anger is exempt” (Shabbat 105) – acting in anger is never productive, and hence...
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Shabbat 104a: Alphabetical Order

January 25, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Latin alphabet, used in many languages of today (including English), is a phonetic system where each letter—or combination thereof—represents various sounds. The visual format of the letter has no inherent meaning, and is rather arbitrary in nature. Such is not the case with many ancient alphabets (and some modern ones), including Hebrew. While we may view the Hebrew alphabet of today as phonetically based, the shape of the letters does...
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