Rabbi Jay Kelman's blog

Shabbat Chol Hamoed: Opposites Attract

Sukkot is a holiday full of contradictions. At the time we celebrate our harvest, we are bidden to leave the comfort of our home and expose ourselves to the elements of nature. Even the two reasons given for sitting in the sukkah are contradictory. According to Rabbi Akiva, the sukkah is meant to replicate the sukkot that the Jews actually resided in as they sojourned in the desert: flimsy huts representing the temporary nature of life on earth.

Sukkot: Time to Teach

Holidays are a most opportune time to instill in our children the values and character traits that personify a Jewish lifestyle. At first glance Pesach, more than any other holiday, seems to embody the critical importance of teaching our children. The entire seder is focused on children of all types and stripes; the intense preparation for the holiday and the excitement of the seder make it a most memorable one for children. The Torah's description of Pesach centers on such imperatives as, "and when your children ask", &qu

The Day After

“It was on the next day…” (Shemot 18:13).

Apparently, something of significance had happened on the previous day, yet the Torah makes no mention of it. The day, that special day that needs no mention, can be none other than Yom Kippur (Rashi).

Yom Kippur: A Great Day!

Our society worships greatness. Whether it be athletes, rock stars, actors or successful business leaders, they are showered with wealth and adulation and pampered wherever they go. People pay great sums of money to be in the presence of, or acquire an object once used by, the perceived greats of our society. 

Aseret Yemi Teshuva: I Confess

Integral to the teshuva process is the act of vidui, confession. One can intellectually know one has done something wrong; one can even feel terrible about it. But unless and until one verbalizes that one has sinned—and for sins against our fellow man, vidui should be done publicly (Hilchot Teshuva, 2:5)—teshuva cannot be complete. It is precisely because it is so hard to admit a wrong, specifically stating what one did wrong with no ifs, ands, or buts, that it is so necessary.

Rosh Hashanah: Early, Late or Just Right

"And on the seventh month on the first day of the month, it shall be a day of rest. It is a sacred day for remembrance and blowing" (Vayikra 23:24). What the Torah calls a day of blowing (of the ram's horn) is more commonly known as Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. Yet the seventh month seems an odd time to be celebrating the start of a new year. We are apparently six months late…or perhaps it is six months early. 

Nitzavim: Pass the Water

"You are standing this day all of you before the Lord your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel: your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in the midst of the camp, from the hewer of wood unto the drawer of water” (Devarim 29:9-10).

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