Tazria: Back to the Beginning

Perhaps there is no parsha less studied than Tazria (and its frequent partner, Metzora). With its focus on the detailed laws of tzara'at, a "disease" that we would have great difficulty defining or even recognizing were we to see it—and with its laws no longer applicable—many prefer to focus on the eight verses that open the parsha. These verses, detailing the laws of childbirth, follow...
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Bava Batra 75: Reason to Believe

April 24, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
We live in an age of great skepticism—often for good reason. In a time where science-with its demand for rigorous proofs, detailed experimentation and peer review-has contributed so much to the advancement of life in so many areas, asking someone to accept unverifiable claims is almost ludicrous.  The “scientific” approach has always been the hallmark of Talmudic and halachic discourse[1]. Views must be backed up with...
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Shmini: Comforting Cousins

At times of crisis, true leaders often emerge, be they political, military or religious. Their ability to effectively provide inspiration, motivation, hope, and comfort when needed sows seeds of evolutionary growth in the life of a nation. This is equally true on a personal level, especially when a sudden tragedy strikes. It is in these situations that great people reach for strength and ability they did not even know they possessed. ...
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Pesach: Hope for the Best

April 16, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Pesach is the Jewish holiday of hope. It marks the beginning of the Jewish (lunar) year – and new years are always times of hope. It is celebrated in the spring, the wonderful season of hope and renewal. We read Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, with its allegorical youthful message of love, which is only possible when hope abounds. The Seder night is full of hope for a better tomorrow—a redeemed world living in peace. We look forward to G-d...
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Pesach: Now that is Slavery!

April 10, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Our images of Egyptian slavery are those of forced labor and murder by a ruthless tyrant and his many followers. Despite Joseph literally saving Egypt from ruin, "a new king arose who knew not Joseph" (Shemot 1:8). Taxation, hard labor, loss of freedom of movement and eventually murder of Jewish children soon followed. This was a nation who knew not G-d, and even after ten plagues and the death of their firstborn, persisted in their stubbornness...
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