Thoughts from the Daf

Niddah 31: A Great Mitzva

November 28, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In our last post, we discussed that seven days after giving birth to a boy and 14 after a girl, the newborn mother purifies herself in a mikvah. Any bleeding over the next 33 days for a boy and 66 for a girl is considered dam tohar, blood of purity, and does not render her a nidah. Yet while the mother is no longer considered tameh regarding her status as a nidah, with regards to entering the Temple...
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Niddah 31: The Joy of Being Jewish

November 26, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Death, as we have often noted, is the primary source of tumah, impurity, with a corpse classified as avi avot hatumah, the grandfather of tumah.  Ironically, life itself can also create tumah and hence, after giving birth, a mother is tameh; seven days for a boy and 14 for a girl. Apparently, the Torah wants to remind us that the process of death begins the moment life begins. The ritual...
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Niddah 2: Shammai and Hillel

November 18, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is hard to imagine more influential institutions of Jewish learning than those of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. These two great schools set in motion much of the foundation of the Oral Law. It was regarding their some 316 disputes recorded in the Mishna that a heavenly voice declared, “These and those are the words of the living G-d” (Eiruvin 13b).  With the Torah consisting of so much that is gray, no one view can capture...
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Niddah: Blood and Water

November 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And you shall live by them” (Vayikra 18:5). The mitzvot of the Torah are meant to enhance life, adding meaning and sanctity to our sojourn on earth. The Torah is an eitz chaim, a tree of life, providing beautiful fruit year after year, generation after generation. Torah and death are incompatible. Thus kohanim, those tasked – at least in Temple times – with the teaching of Torah, were...
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Masechet Kelim: Time for New Dishes

November 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Seder Taharot opens with masechet Kelim, vessels, which at 30 chapters and 254 mishnayot is far and away the largest of the 63 tractates of the Mishna[1]. To fully understand the masechet, one needs great knowledge of “realia”, understanding the day-to-day of life during the Temple period—specifically, the types, sizes and shapes of various vessels in use throughout the Mishnaic period. The focus of...
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