Thoughts from the Daf

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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An Introduction to Seder Taharot

October 31, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Jewish law is generally divided into three distinct areas: issur v’heter, ritual law; dinei mammonot, monetary law; and tumah v’tahara, laws of purity and impurity. Just as the laws regarding criminal and civil law differ—the former requiring evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and the latter a balance of probabilities—each area of Jewish law has its own rules and procedures....
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An Introduction to Masechet Tamid

October 18, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The one sheep you shall do in the morning and the second sheep you shall do in the evening”. Cited twice in the Torah (Shemot 29:39 and Bamidbar 28:4), this verse, is, at least according to one view, its most important. Many are familiar with the view of Rabbi Akiva who, echoing Hillel, teaches that “to love your neighbour as yourself” is the most important verse of the Bible. However, in the introduction to the Ein...
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Keritot 28: Please Go First

September 26, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rabbi Shimon says: Kevasim, lambs, precede se’irim, goats, in all places” (Keritot 28a). Rabbi Shimon notes that while lambs and goats are often mentioned together, the Torah (almost) always refers to lambs first. “Is it possible [that this is] because they are preferred? Thus, the verse states: ‘And he shall bring for his offering a goat’ (Vayikra 4:28) after which...
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