Thoughts from the Daf

Chulin 13: Family Traditions

January 02, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
That one must be Jewish to shecht an animal is not necessarily obvious. One might have argued that as long as the meat is slaughtered properly, it matters little who actually did so. As we have noted, shechita itself is what we call a matir, as opposed to a mitzvah. It is a necessary prerequisite[1] to allow us to eat meat but, as it is not an actual mitzvah to slaughter an...
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Chulin 10: Watch the Water

December 26, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When I mention to people that it is likely worse to smoke than to eat pork, I often get strange looks. And usually the more observant the person, the stranger the look. Knowing the centrality of kashrut—especially the aversion to eating pork—and the rabbinic debate as to whether smoking is, in fact, prohibited by Jewish law[1], this seems like a ludicrous claim. But ludicrous it is not—it is actually rather obvious. ...
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Chulin 9: Practical Rabbinics

December 24, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There are few, if any, semicha programs that require their students to learn shechita or safrut, and even fewer that require good penmanship. None would accept a student who did not know how to write. But the requirements of rabbis in Talmudic times were of a different nature than today.   “Rav Yehuda, quoting Rav, said: A Torah scholar is required to learn writing, ritual slaughter, and...
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Chulin7: Pass the Pork

December 20, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the questions I am often asked by those of my students who do not keep kosher, is have you really never eaten non-kosher food? I generally reply along the lines that I have never knowingly eaten non-kosher food, have never eaten at McDonalds or Pizza Pizza and I have no idea what lobster tastes like (I hear it is very good) and I will not even eat some salad at a vegetarian restaurant[1]. But of course I cannot be sure that I have not...
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Chulin 7: The Idolatrous Snake

December 18, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Over and over again the Torah warns us not to allow avodah zara, idolatry, in the Land of Israel. Yet, as is often the case, things are not always quite so simple and at times there can be other considerations that outweigh a seemingly clear Torah command. As we discussed in our last post the nachash hanechoshet, the copper snake, that had saved many lives in the desert, eventually became an object of (idol) worship. Yet Asa...
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