Shelach Lecha: Confirmation Bias

How can two people witness the exact same events and yet offer two distinct and different reports? This question is one that jumps out as we examine the story of the meraglim. The Torah had been received, the mishkan built and dedicated, the census taken. All that remained was the march to the Promised Land of Israel to implement the Torah way of life.  The Jewish people were nervous, wondering about the...
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All are welcome to Masechet Erachin

June 24, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Amongst the most obscure laws of the Torah are those of erachin, which form the subject matter of the last chapter of sefer Vayikra. The Torah details the amount of money that one must give to the Temple treasury when one proclaims his or her erech, loosely translated as one’s value. The amount is determined by one’s age and sex with no reference to one’s personal attributes. In contradistinction, if...
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Beha'alotcha: Dan and Din

  “Then journeyed the camp of Dan, m’aseif, the gatherer, of all the camps” (Bamidbar 10:25). As the Jewish people prepared to march to the land of Israel—no one imagined it would take forty years until they would arrive—they formed a precise pattern with four groups of three tribes each, with the tribe of Levi and the Mishkan in the middle of the camp. The tribe of...
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Naso: Counting Our Blessings

A Jew is commanded to recite one hundred blessings each and every day (Menachot 43b). We need constant reminders to ensure that we recognize the blessings of G-d and to remind ourselves that in all of our actions we are to reflect the Divine image. While most of the brachot we make consist of man acknowledging G-d as the master of the world, the priestly blessings are an exception to this pattern. In this particular blessing...
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Bechorot 35: Child's Play

June 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The toy industry has come a long way since Talmudic times. Perhaps the most popular "toy" during the Talmudic era was that of a chicken’s head. It was the need for the chicken’s head—I’m not quite sure how the game was played—that serves as the background to one of most famous and important principles of the laws of Shabbat, namely, that of p’seik reisha.  This principle is...
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