Divrei Torah

Pesachim 2: Searching for Chametz

November 26, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“On the eve of the fourteenth, we search for chametz by candlelight” (Pesachim 2a). I fondly recall hiding pieces of chametz all over the house and then helping my father, z”l, find them as we began the formal preparations for Pesach. While not as “rewarding” as hiding the Afikomen, bedikat chametz, the search for chametz, is much more important.  The reason we do so is...
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An Introduction to Masechet Pesachim

November 24, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The task of editing involves critical decision-making. Beyond questions of language and syntax, an editor must decide what to include and what to exclude, and how much prominence to give to any particular story. This is doubly true when editing an anthology of material from multiple sources spanning hundreds of years, the task that lay before Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi, the final editor of the Mishna. So vast were the rabbinic texts before him that...
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Toldot: A Wonderful Sin!

November 20, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"When Eisav heard his father’s words he let out a most loud and bitter scream" (27:34). Our Sages sensitive to even minor failings of our Biblical heroes, coupled with their keen textual analysis saw a parallel between this verse and one appearing well over a thousand years later. "And he [Mordechai] let out a loud and bitter scream" (Esther 4:1). The pain and suffering caused to Eisav by Yaakov would cause his...
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Eiruvin 100: Cats and Ants

November 19, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
Imagine if the Torah had not been given. While for many, such a thought is unthinkable—“for they are our life and the length of our days, and on them we will meditate day and night”—for many, actually, most Jews, such is the reality. Raised with little connection to Judaism, with little or no Jewish education, and part of the 70% of Jews who do not attend synagogue on Yom Kippur[1], the Torah, for all intents and...
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Chayei Sarah: Bring Her Home

November 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Yitzchak then brought her [Rivka] into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rivka as his wife. Yitzchak loved her, and Yitzchak found comfort after his mother’s death” (Breisheet 24:67). Yitzchak’s marriage to Rivka brought not only brought love to his life, it also offered comfort on the passing of his mother. But while Yitzchak may have been comforted, there is little reason to think his father Avraham received...
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