Rabbi Jay Kelman's blog

Brachot 12: The Heretics and The Ten Commandments

“The appointed one [assistant kohen gadol] said to them [the priests in the Temple]: ‘Recite a single blessing.’ They recited a blessing, and read the aseret hadibrotShema, veHaya im Shamoa and vaYomer, blessed the people with three blessings; emet veyatziv, avodah and birchat kohanim, and on Shabbat, they would add a blessing for the outgoing mishmar, priestly watch” (Brachot 11b).

Shemot: Irrational Thinking

Amongst the unsung heroes of the Jewish people are Shifra and Puah. Despite the genocidal decrees of the Egyptian regime against Jewish newborns, these two unknown women risked their lives to save the lives of others. This is all the more remarkable according to those commentaries that claim that Shifra and Puah were non-Jews, and thus, the first of the Righteous Gentiles.

Brachot 8: Go to Work

“Rabbi Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna: All who have yira’at shamayim, fear of Heaven, his words are heeded, as it is stated: ‘The end of the matter, all having been heard: Fear G-d and keep His commandments; for this is all of man’” (Kohelet 12:13). It is this message, and only because of this message, that our Sages agreed to include Kohelet in the Biblical canon. 

Brachot 7: What Does G-d Pray For?

What should one pray for? If we were to take a survey of the typical shul-goer, or even one who is not, I suspect we will hear such ideas as health, peace, justice, economic success, a wonderful family. One might take a look at the siddur and see what our rabbis suggested we pray for. We could then add such items as wisdom, repentance, forgiveness, redemption and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. These are all wonderful things to pray for, and it is for good reason that they are included in the shemoneh esrei that we recite three times a day.

Vayechi: Time for a Kiss

People often mistakenly think that truly righteous people are somehow different, perhaps not totally "normal".  Somehow we assume that, unlike regular people, tzadikim (to paraphrase Shakespeare) "don't bleed or feel like we do". This approach is alien to Judaism.  Yaakov called for Yosef to come to his bedside so that he could impart a final message to him. Yosef hurriedly came, bringing his sons Ephraim and Menashe to be with their grandfather. Upon seeing his grandchildren, Yaakov kissed and hugged them. The Torah does not de

Brachot: A New Cycle Begins

Rashi begins his commentary to Chumash asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation and not with the first mitzva given to the Jewish people, that of establishing a calendar. Put slightly differently, Rashi wonders why do we begin with a divine clock and not a human one? Rashi answers that the Torah wanted to impress upon us that the world is G-d’s to divide as He pleases. In other words, the Torah opens with the notion of kabbalat malchut shamayim, the acceptance of G-d’s kingship.

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