Thoughts from the Daf

Brachot 48: Pumpkin, Pumpkin Look to the Sky

February 27, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
I imagine that many of us had elementary school classmates whom we knew were going to reach great heights. Their intelligence and drive to succeed was obvious, and their success was easily foretold. While some are late bloomers, many, likely most, who attain greatness in fields ranging from athletics to zoology and everything in between, show their talents at a young age.  And it is no different in the world of Torah. For every Rabbi Akiva...
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Brachot 43: Learning from Tamar

February 26, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We have often noted that the Talmud was edited with great precision. A simple example is the extreme to which it goes to record who, and in whose name, teachings were made. When the teachings of the same person on a variety of subjects are juxtaposed, a most common occurrence, more times than not it is much more than a mnemonic device. Upon closer examination one notices that these seemingly unconnected teachings are deeply related to each...
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Brachot 43: Sweet Smells

February 24, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When one is consumed with hatred, one is liable to act in ways that are out of the norm, to say the least. “Sina’ah mekalkelet et hashura, hatred breaks down one’s straight thinking” (Rashi, Bamidbar 22:21). Bilaam, consumed with hatred of the Jewish people despite his protestations of following only G-d, rose early and saddled his donkey by himself, a break from royal protocol. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt—...
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Brachot 31: Channa's Prayer

February 19, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Hamnuna said: How many important halakhot can be derived from these verses of the prayer of Hannah?” (Brachot 31a). The image one conjures up when one thinks of Channa is that of a most pious woman, spilling her heart to G-d, so engrossed in prayer that she is oblivious to her surroundings. It is she who teaches what proper kavanah is all about. “’And Channah spoke in her...
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Brachot 29: The Simple Jew

February 16, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Our Sages taught: Shimon Hapekuli arranged the eighteen blessings before Rabban Gamliel, al haseder, in order, in Yavne” (Brachot 28b).  The Gemara (Megillah 17b) notes that the shemoneh esrei was initially composed by the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah. In a rather startling comment, the Gemara then claims that it was then forgotten and hence, the need for Shimon Hapekuli to “arrange them...
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