Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Noach: Stuck in the Present
"G-d said: I will obliterate humanity that I have created from the face of the earth; man, livestock, land animals and birds of the sky. I regret that I created them. But Noach found favour in G-d's eyes" (Breisheet 6:7-8). What an amazing person Noach must have been. Surrounded by idolatry, corruption, and moral depravity, Noach remained righteous and pure. Single-handed, he managed to save humanity from oblivion. Only...Continue Reading »
Nitzavim: It's Great to Be a Jew!
One often hears the lament that it is difficult to be a Jew. There are seemingly endless demands from morning to evening, 365 days a year, year in and year out. While being a good Jew requires constant effort—as does everything worthwhile—in reality, it is challenging, rather than difficult. The Torah constantly challenges us to be better human beings, to expand our intellectual horizons, and to increase our empathy for others and...Continue Reading »
Ki Tavo: In the Garden of Eden
"And now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land which You have given me" (Devarim 26:10). The Israeli farmer was to express his gratitude for his bounty by bringing his first fruits to the Temple and publicly thanking G-d for the privilege of living in, and developing, the holy land. Well aware of the hard, back-breaking work the farmer did, the Torah was concerned that the farmer would see his produce more as a...Continue Reading »
Ki-Teze: What a Story!
A legal brief and a good story are two very different forms of writing. We have even coined a term, legalese, to describe the distinct writing style employed by many a lawyer. The departments of law and that of literature have little to do with each other. Such is not the case with the Torah. Narrative often serves as the backdrop to the law, shedding light on many a command. Narrative tells us how we should live, while...Continue Reading »
Shoftim: Intellectual Honesty
Judaism has always placed tremendous emphasis on intellectual achievement and development. Talmud Torah k’neged kulam—the study of Torah is equal to all other mitzvoth—speaks to this emphasis. Our Sages teach that, "An ignorant person cannot be pious” (Avot 2:6). The Torah expects every Jew, young or old, poor or wealthy, man or woman, married or single, to study Torah each and every...Continue Reading »