Divrei Torah

Beshalach: Who's Up First

January 29, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The problem of theodicy—why there is evil in this world—has bothered thinking people from time immemorial. We cannot answer Moshe’s question to G-d as to why the wicked often prosper and the righteous suffer (Brachot 7a). Hence, Rav Soloveitchik noted that we do not even ask the question of lamah, why? Rather, we ask lemah[1], for what purpose? Not why, but how should we respond? Instead of wondering why...
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Pesachim 50: Time to Work

January 29, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
There is a fascinating debate amongst the medieval greats as to whether one is obligated to act lifnim meshurat hadin, over and above what the law demands. On the one hand, it defies logic to claim that there could be a law requiring one to do more than the law requires. If the law requires one to act beyond the law, then doing such is the law, and not beyond the letter of the law. Lifnim meshurat hadin may be the...
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Pesachim 50: That's My Minhag

January 25, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In one of his teshuva derashot, Rav Soloveitchik lamented the fact that, while there are many shomer Shabbat Jews in America, there are very few “shomer erev Shabbat Jews”. Many, especially (but not only) in the winter months, make it home from work, or elsewhere, with little time to spare and rush to switch from a weekday mindset to a Shabbat one. All who have spent Shabbat in Israel know what it...
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Bo: The First Born

January 21, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In the non-egalitarian society of the Bible, it was evident that the bechor, the firstborn—being the one designated to carry on the legacy of his father—had special rights and thus, special responsibilities. Sadly, this situation led to much conflict, as families fought over who was the true heir to the parent’s legacy.  Clearly, the "firstborn" was not necessarily determined by order of birth....
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Pesachim 49: A Great Family

January 20, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Language is much more than a method of communication. It conveys the values and culture of those who speak it. The Hebrew language is known as lashon hakodesh, the holy tongue, explains the Ramban (Shemot 30:13), because it is the language G-d used to create the world: “With ten utterances, the world was created” (Avot 5:1). It is the language of the Torah, of the prophets, and the Mishna. The Rambam (Guide 3:8) notes...
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