Bechukotai: A Proper Ending

A mark of a good book is a clear and coherent structure. The opening chapters set the tone, themes are appropriately developed, and the conclusion ties together the key elements of the story. Thus, when studying the Torah, we must look for instruction not only from its content, but also its form. What is the relationship between law and narrative? Why are certain laws introduced when they are? Why is the chronological sequence not always...
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Shabbat 63: I Did Not Know

May 15, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the changes accompanying the creation of the State of Israel is the flourishing of the study of Tanach. Returning to our ancient homeland, and able to see with our own eyes where much of the Tanach actually happened, the Tanach comes alive in ways it just cannot outside of the Land of Israel. Furthermore, there has been a return to placing much greater emphasis on the pshat[1], the plain meaning of the text[2]. The output of...
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Shabbat 33: Silence is Golden

May 12, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
When our Sages entered the vineyard in Yavne, Rabbi Yehuda, and Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Yossi, and Rabbi Shimon were there, and a question was asked before them…Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ila’i, rosh hamedabrim b'kol mamkom, the head of the speakers in every place, responded” (Shabbat 33b).  The Gemara’s simple question as to why Rabbi Ila’i is called rosh hamedabrim b'kol mamkom...
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Emor: A Second Yom-Tov

“You shall count seven complete weeks from the day following the Shabbat from the day you brought the omer as a wave offering seven complete weeks they shall be...on the 50th day you shall present a new meal offering to the Lord" (Vayikra 23:15-16). The holiday of Shavuot - marking the beginning of the wheat harvest - lacks its own independent date, its celebration linked to Pesach. We tend to think of...
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Shabbat 32: The Uneducated Jew

May 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel says: The laws of hekdesh, consecrated items; terumot; and ma’asarot, tithes, are the essence of Torah, and they were given over to the amei ha’aretz, the uneducated people of the land” (Shabbat 31a-b)[1].  The laws regarding hekdesh and tithes are amongst the most serious in our tradition. Eating untithed...
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