Thoughts from the Daf

Avodah Zarah 19: The Right Person for the Right Job

February 28, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
  Considering the amount of time one spends at work, there is little sadder than being in a job one does not like. How wonderful it is when one loves what one does – with payment for one’s work almost a bonus!   Yet love of a job is not enough – at least from a Torah perspective. The job must be appropriate for the person physically, intellectually and emotionally. Our Sages define avodat parech,...
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Avodah Zarah 19: Learn What You Like

February 20, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“The age of five for the study of Tanach, the age of ten for Mishna and the age of fifteen for Talmud[1]” (Pirkei Avot 5:21). Our Sages clearly spell out the age-appropriate subject matter we should be teaching our children.  Rav Tanchum bar Chanilai, presumably speaking to adults, teaches that “leolam, forevermore, one should divide shenotav, his years, one third Mikra (Tanach), one third Mishna...
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Avodah Zarah 18: Too Much Torah!

February 15, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
While we often tend to view the ancient Romans as evil enemies out to eradicate Judaism and kill Jews, the truth is that the relationship between Israel and Rome was a complex and inconsistent one. The Romans destroyed the Temple, but they allowed the academy at Yavne to grow, develop and flourish. While they martyred the asara harugei malchut, many of our Sages—foremost amongst them Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi—had a warm and...
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Avodah Zarah 18: The Power of the Letters

February 13, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the differences between Ashkenazic and Sephardic culture, both religiously and otherwise, is in their view of the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of the Name, specifically as it relates to martyrdom.  The Rambam, born in Spain in 1138, begins the legal portion of his monumental code[1] discussing the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem: “The entire house of Israel is commanded to sanctify the name of G-d” (...
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Avodah Zarah 17: Just One Minute

February 07, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the highlights of learning with Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt”l, were his occasional “press conferences”, where we could ask any and all questions of Rav Aharon. I recall that at one of these sessions, someone asked if there are any tragic figures in Tanach. Rav Aharon defined a tragic figure as one who, despite a lifetime of fantastic accomplishments, is remembered not for what they accomplished, but for a single...
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