Balak: Fearless Leadership

Bilaam, the heathen prophet, recognized that the strength of the Jewish people was in their high level of modesty. “How goodly are your tents, Yaakov!” he exclaimed, noting the respect for privacy that pervaded the Jewish encampment in the desert. Yet so soon after his beautiful words, the Jewish people tried to prove him wrong. “Israel was staying in Shittim when the people began to behave immorally with Moabite women” (...
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Erachin 15: Money Talks

July 18, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One would not expect to find the major Talmudic discussion on the laws and moral failings of speaking lashon hara in masechet Erachin. This masechet concerns itself with technical laws of gifts of valuations to the Temple, laws that are no longer applicable today. But as we have encountered many times, Talmudic discussions flow from one topic to another—always in a most precise and logical fashion[1]....
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Erachin 4: More Priestly Obligations

July 14, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In our last post, we began our discussion as to why in so many disparate cases, one might have thought that kohanim are exempt from a mitzvah and hence, must be specifically obligated in that mitzvah.  “All are obligated in shofar: kohanim, levi’im and yisraelim” (Erachin 3b). It is hard to imagine that kohanim might be exempt from the mitzvah of shofar. However, when one considers...
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Chukat: Marching On

Judaism is a religion that celebrates life. "Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than the entire life of the world to come" (Pirkei Avot 5:22). It is only while we are alive that we can elevate ourselves through the performance of mitzvot, that we can contribute to the betterment of the world, and that we can become partners with G-d in the process of creation. There is no nobility in death.  Death...
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Musings from Morocco: Lasting Impressions

July 12, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
Visiting Morocco leaves one with both a sense of hope and of despair. The sense of despair does not refer to the decline of Jewish community, which at approximately 3,000 souls, totals some 1% of its pre-1948 numbers. Thankfully, the other 99% were not murdered in the Holocaust or even expelled by their Arab rulers, but rather chose to leave voluntarily, mainly to go to the State of Israel—where today, some one million Israelis...
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