Thoughts from the Daf

Zevachim 88: Back-to-Back

July 19, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the frequent questions Rashi asks in his commentary to the Chumash is lamah nismicha, why are two parts of the Torah juxtaposed next to each other? The underlying assumption of the question is that these sections should not have been placed next to each other, i.e., the events did not occur successively. If such were not the case, there would be no basis for the question.  When Rashi, for example, asks why the...
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Zevachim 48: Go North

June 15, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“The ox and goat of Yom Kippur are slaughtered in the north” (Zevachim 47a). As we discussed in our last post, the fifth perek of masechet Zevachim details where in the Temple each of the sacrifices were to be slaughtered, who could eat them, until when they could be eaten and what was to be done with their blood.  With the sacrifices of Yom Kippur offering atonement like no other, it makes...
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Zevachim 47: I Agree!

June 10, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Other than belief in G-d, there is almost nothing in Judaism that is not subject to debate. Does G-d have a body? Should Biblical stories be understood literally? Is the Mishkan (and korbanot) an ideal or a concession to human weakness? What will the Messianic era look like? On and on it goes. And this before we even discuss the thousands of halachic debates that appear on almost every page in the Talmud. The opening teaching...
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Time to Vote

June 07, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
For those living in the Province of Ontario—that includes yours truly—today is Election Day! (For those who do not live in Ontario, count yourself lucky that you are unable to vote in today’s election.)  While Jewish law may quibble with some of the modern applications of democracy, we can proudly say that Jewish teachings are what form the bedrock of democratic values. Sanctity of life, equality before the law,...
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Zevachim 46: What's On Your Mind?

June 04, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the classic debates of the Talmud – and one with no clear resolution – is whether or not mitzvoth tzreechot kavanah. The term kavanah, which literally means “direction”, is not easy to translate into precise halachic terminology, but is generally understood to mean focus and concentration on what one is doing.   In numerous discussions in the Talmud (see, for example, Brachot 13a)...
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