Thoughts from the Daf

Zevachim 38: Do it Right

May 24, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the first innovations of the Reform movement was the removal from the siddur of all references to Zion and the Temple. The emerging democracies of Europe, which had begun to treat the Jews as equal citizens, were to be our home[1]. The idea of yearning for the return to Jerusalem was a relic of a bygone era[2] and the notion of sacrifices in modernity viewed as absurd. Judaism, they argued, had moved beyond that stage in its...
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An Introduction to Seder Kodshim

April 24, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the benefits of learning Daf Yomi is that it “forces” one to learn subject areas that would otherwise be ignored. Each one of the 2,711 pages of the Talmud Bavli is given equal treatment, allowing one to study the breadth of Talmudic literature. If not for Daf Yomi, it is hard to imagine too many people would open up Seder Kodshim, dealing with the sacrificial rites, which have little relevance or resonance today. There is...
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Horayot 14: Seeking Kavod

April 19, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
We have often commented on the fact that our tradition does not shy away from pointing out the weaknesses and failings of our great Sages. This idea is first found in the Torah itself, which does not hide or excuse the sins – minor as those sins might be – of our greats. Even when it is not necessary to read a story in a negative light, such as Abraham going to Egypt when famine strikes the land of Israel, our commentaries often do...
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Horayot 14: Standing for Eliyahu

April 16, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Not every question has an answer and not every problem has a solution. This may be depressing for some, especially the young and idealistic (all too often, they tend to be one and the same), but this is something one realizes more and more as one gains life experience. This may be frustrating, but it is also ennobling, pushing us to search further and further to find solutions. While some questions may eventually find answers, some may...
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Horayot 10: A Pure Sin

April 15, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Judaism has long rejected the notion that the ends justify the means. One of the most basic of Talmudic rules is that a mitzvah haba b’aveirah, a mitzvah enabled through the commission of sin, is rendered invalid. The third chapter of masechet Sukkah, lulav hagazul, the stolen lulav[1], gets its name from the fact that a stolen lulav is an invalid lulav and one gains nothing by using one, but...
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