Shoftim: Nothing to Fear

September 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The basic duty of every government is to provide security and protect its citizens from both internal criminal activity and external enemies. Parshat Shoftim, which contains the mitzvah to appoint a king, thus also contains the mitzvot of appointing a police force and the laws relating to a Jewish army. Our inability to have a Jewish army for close to two thousand years served to highlight our national degradation. During the battles...
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Keritot 13: Let's Not Drink to That

September 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Jewish tradition teaches that we are to celebrate joyous occasions—Shabbat and Yom Tov, brit milah, a wedding—by drinking wine. Used appropriately, “Wine gladdens the heart of man” (Tehillim 104:15); used inappropriately, wine can literally kill.  “Drink no wine or other intoxicant, you or your sons, when you enter the Tent of Meeting, that you may not die. This is a law for all time...
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Keritot 8: The Rabbinic Market

September 02, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The most basic rule of economics is that of supply and demand. The interaction between these two forces is the key—often the only—factor in determining the price of an object or service. In order to maximize economic efficiency, providing consumers with the goods they want at the lowest possible price, market forces must not be tampered with. Hence, violation of anti-trust laws, which forbid companies from colluding to limit supply...
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Re'eh: Conflicting Emotions

August 30, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is difficult to feel two contradictory emotions at the same time. Conflicting, if not contradictory, emotions such as joy and sadness, love and hate, fear and comfort, do not easily co-exist. As human beings constantly struggle with conflicting emotions, Judaism, wanting to give each its proper time for expression, separates differing emotions into separate days.   The fear that gripped the Jewish people during the...
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An Introduction to Masechet Keritot

August 28, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“One should be as careful with a light mitzvah as with heavy mitzvah” (Avot 2:1). Contrary to what is often taught, not all mitzvot are created equal. Some are more important, some less so. The mitzvah to accept upon oneself to observe the commandments (done through the recital of the shema) is clearly of greater importance than, say, ensuring we put salt on all our sacrifices[1]. Yet one who wants to maximize...
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