Thoughts from the Daf

Menachot 29: The Death of Rabbi Akiva

September 17, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most moving parts of the Yom Kippur davening is the recital of the asara harugei malchut, the ten rabbinic leaders martyred by the Romans. A similar piyut is recited on Tisha B’Av, though the purpose of each—and hence, the piyyutim themselves—differs. On Tisha B’Av, it is included as part of the mourning process on the saddest day of the...
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Menachot 18: Loving Torah

September 08, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Blessed are Torah scholars for whom the words of Torah are very dear to them” (Menachot 18a). One can tell much about a person by seeing what makes them happy. For the true scholar there is almost nothing that brings greater joy than gaining further knowledge and insight into the subject matter at hand. Whether or not there is practical significance to the new discovery of knowledge is almost irrelevant. Knowledge is valuable and...
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Menachot 12: Time over Space

August 31, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There is no area of Jewish law as regimented as that of sacrifices. There are strict rules as to the type of animal that may be brought, when and where they are to be brought, who can eat from the korban and for how long. The Torah regulates exactly what parts may be offered on the altar, what parts may be eaten by kohanim, by non-kohanim, by men and by women. There are detailed laws regarding the...
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Menachot 6: Benefitting Sinners

August 19, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In 1977, the New York State Legislature passed the “Son of Sam law”. Named for serial killer David Berkowitz’s adopted name, the law forbade criminals from profiting from their actions; for example, by selling book rights to their stories for millions of dollars. In 1991, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the law, arguing that it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment...
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Menachot 2: The Power of Logic

August 15, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There is seemingly no better proof for a Talmudic viewpoint than support from a biblical verse. Expressions such as dik’teev, “it is written”, or shene’emar, “as it says”, appear on almost every Talmudic page and are used to introduce biblical texts in support of a given view. While sages may argue on how to interpret the verse—and thus, often reach different conclusions...
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