Thoughts from the Daf

Brachot 28: Saving Judaism

February 12, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is fair to say that, if not for the leadership of Rav Yochanan ben Zakkai, you would not be reading these words. Judaism as we know it today could not have survived without his great foresight.    It was he who steered the Jewish people during the Roman siege of Jerusalem and in the aftermath of destruction. Recognizing the futility of trying to defeat the Romans militarily, he urged cooperation and developed positive relations...
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Brachot 28: The Education of Rabban Gamliel

February 06, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The years following the destruction of the Temple were fraught with great danger and uncertainty. The infighting that had so weakened the Jewish people threatened to completely tear them apart. Hundreds of thousands were killed or exiled, with the many sects that could not make the transition from a Temple-based Judaism disappearing. The houses of Hillel and Shammai argued so vehemently that there was fear they would “make the Torah into...
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Brachot 26: Prayer is Mercy

February 02, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
As we transition from the third to the fourth chapter of masechet Brachot, our focus shifts from the mitzvah of kriat shema to that of tefillah or, more accurately, the amidah. That which we say before the amidah—be it songs of praise, or the acceptance of the kingdom of G-d, i.e., the shema—is said as preparation for tefillah, i.e., the...
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Brachot 21: Before and After

January 29, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Shehechiyanu vekemanu vhegeyanu lazman hazeh. It was when daf yomi last reached Brachot 27 that I wrote my first “Daily Daf”. For the past seven and a half years it has been a tremendous privilege to share my thoughts on the daf. I want to thank so many of you for your comments, questions, critique and giving me the inspiration continue writing. At the bottom of this years thought there is a link to...
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Brachot 21: What Did I Say

January 26, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the things I love about the Gemara is how realistic and human it is—how it portrays people, rabbis and laypeople alike, in all their complexity, never shying away from pointing out their foibles. “Rav Yehuda said: One who is uncertain whether he recited shema or whether he did not recite it does not recite it again. One who is uncertain whether he recited emet veyatziv, must recite ...
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