Chulin 10: Watch the Water

December 26, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
When I mention to people that it is likely worse to smoke than to eat pork, I often get strange looks. And usually the more observant the person, the stranger the look. Knowing the centrality of kashrut—especially the aversion to eating pork—and the rabbinic debate as to whether smoking is, in fact, prohibited by Jewish law[1], this seems like a ludicrous claim. But ludicrous it is not—it is actually rather obvious. ...
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Chulin 9: Practical Rabbinics

December 24, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
There are few, if any, semicha programs that require their students to learn shechita or safrut, and even fewer that require good penmanship. None would accept a student who did not know how to write. But the requirements of rabbis in Talmudic times were of a different nature than today.   “Rav Yehuda, quoting Rav, said: A Torah scholar is required to learn writing, ritual slaughter, and...
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Vayechi: The Inconsistent Truth

December 21, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And they said, should they make our sister like a harlot?" (Breisheet 34:31). So ends round one of the debate between Yaakov on one side, and Shimon and Levi on the other, over the killing of the people of Shechem for the rape of Dinah. The Torah moves on to record Yaakov's return to Beit El as the family enters a new phase in their travels. It is on Yaakov's deathbed that we hear his response: "Shimon and Levi, the...
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Chulin7: Pass the Pork

December 20, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the questions I am often asked by those of my students who do not keep kosher, is have you really never eaten non-kosher food? I generally reply along the lines that I have never knowingly eaten non-kosher food, have never eaten at McDonalds or Pizza Pizza and I have no idea what lobster tastes like (I hear it is very good) and I will not even eat some salad at a vegetarian restaurant[1]. But of course I cannot be sure that I have not...
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Chulin 7: The Idolatrous Snake

December 18, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Over and over again the Torah warns us not to allow avodah zara, idolatry, in the Land of Israel. Yet, as is often the case, things are not always quite so simple and at times there can be other considerations that outweigh a seemingly clear Torah command. As we discussed in our last post the nachash hanechoshet, the copper snake, that had saved many lives in the desert, eventually became an object of (idol) worship. Yet Asa...
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