Bechorot 30: Kosher Style

June 05, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
It is highly unlikely that one would give repeat business to a supposedly kosher butcher who sold you non-kosher meat, or to one who misled you regarding a particular product. But what about a butcher who tells you that, while he does not keep kosher himself, he only sells kosher meat[1]? Or the butcher who you know keeps strictly kosher in some areas but not in others? And when, if and under what conditions should we give a cheat a second...
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Bechukotai: Casual Relationships

Twice a year, before Shavuot and Rosh Hashana, we read the tochecha, the list of dire consequences that will, G-d forbid, befall the Jewish people if they do not follow the chukim and mitzvot of the Torah. Panic, economic ruin, cannibalism, death, destruction and exile are spelled out in vivid detail. While we are told that we must, in general, follow the chukim and mitzvot, surprisingly, the...
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Bechorot 29: May I Have a Raise

May 30, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
How much should we pay teachers? As we discussed in our last post, the Gemara has a clear and simple answer: Nothing. “Just as I [Moshe] taught for no payment, so, too, you [must teach] for no payment” (Bechorot 29a)[1].  But the clear answer is no longer simple, and no longer is it an answer at all. Our Talmudic sages understood that Moshe’s teaching for free is not a viable model, and has limited application. With food...
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Bechorot 29: Free Legal Services

May 28, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In our last post, we discussed the need to have an expert examine a bechor in order to declare that it has a mum, thus allowing its consumption and use by all. Even if the mum was most obvious, nonetheless the halacha still demanded an expert's opinion, fearful that the potential monetary gain would lead one to declare the not-obvious defect to be an obvious one.  Not only did we...
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Behar: Working for G-d

The Torah was wary of the employer-employee relationship. Almost by definition, an employee is not much different than a slave; both are told what to do, when to do it and how it is to be done. “For [all of] you are slaves unto Me” (Vayikra 25:55). As our Sages teach, we are not meant to be slaves of slaves. It can be quite natural for an employer to treat his employee like a slave, even if the employee is treated with dignity. To...
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