Purim: Ignoring G-d

March 20, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Purim celebrates the eternity of the Jewish people. Despite exile and dispersion, genocidal enemies and those willing to turn a blind eye to such, the Jewish people are here forever. When Esther sent a letter to the Sages, “kitvuni ledorot,” write me down for the generations (Megillah 7a), she was proclaiming that the story of the Megillah is the story of the Jewish people for all time. Its inclusion in the Biblical...
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Vayikra-Zachor: Remembering Sacrifices

March 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
One of the fiercest debates amongst Biblical commentators of the medieval period was to what extent, if at all, parts of the Torah may be seen as allegorical. No less a personage than the Rambam claimed that stories such as the three angels visiting Avraham, or Yaakov’s struggle with an angel, were prophetic visions that did not actually occur. As one can imagine, views such as these—and more radical ones, which allegorized such ...
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Chulin 100: Torah at Sinai

March 14, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“Because of this the children of Israel, to this day, do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob’s hip socket was wrenched at the thigh muscle” (Breisheet 32:33). The prohibition to eat gid hanasheh dates to Yaakov’s encounter with the mysterious “man” as, alone at night, he prepared to meet Eisav. It is the third of the three mitzvot that appear in...
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Pekudei: Remember the Count

"These are the accounts, pekudei, of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of testimony, as they were pukad, rendered, according the commandment of Moshe, through the service of the Levites, by the hand of Itamar the son of Aharon the high priest" (Shemot 35:1). The word pekudei, from the root pkd, seems a rather odd choice. Words such as meispar,...
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Chulin 97: It Tastes Great

March 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Rabbinic debates are not for the faint-hearted. They can be most intense, and sadly, can lead to tragic consequences. One of the most famous of Talmudic debates, that regarding the tanur shel achnai, led to the excommunication of Rabbi Eliezer Hagadol and the death of Rabban Gamliel (see here for further analysis).  An discussed here an obscure debate regarding the ritual purity of a knife led to the end of the...
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