Ki-Tavo: Speak Up

September 20, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the key aspects of our being created in the Divine image is the gift of speech. As the world was created with ten Divine utterances (Avot 5:1), our tzelem elokim, divine image, allows us to create, or G-d forbid, destroy, many little “human” worlds through our speech. Yet strangely—perhaps brilliantly is a more apt description—there is very little a Jew must actually say.  Mitzvoth, the core of...
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Keritot 25: When in Doubt

September 17, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One brings a korban for one of two reasons: either because one wants to or because one has to. One may offer a korban as a way of saying thank you for the blessings of life. Instead of, or perhaps in addition to inviting some friends over to celebrate, one transforms the feast into a seudat mitzvah by celebrating in Jerusalem, publicly offering thanksgiving to G-d and sharing their bounty with...
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Ki-Teze: On The Way

September 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Until modern times, travel was viewed as something best avoided. It was slow, uncomfortable, and often quite dangerous. Our rabbis even instituted a special prayer (Brachot 29b-30a) to be said when one has to travel.  Spiritually, travel represented rootlessness, detachment from our natural environment. The person guilty of manslaughter had to flee to a city of refuge; and if he accidentally killed someone while he was already in such a...
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Keritot 13: Under the Influence

September 10, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In our last post, we discussed the serious prohibition of issuing halachic rulings after having had even minimal amounts of alcohol. Yet the practical impact of this prohibition is rather limited.  “Is it possible [the teaching of] Mishna is also [forbidden]?” (Keritot 13b). To this seemingly strange question—why would one think teaching Mishna[1] after having a drink is allowed?—the Gemara says there is no...
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Shoftim: Nothing to Fear

September 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The basic duty of every government is to provide security and protect its citizens from both internal criminal activity and external enemies. Parshat Shoftim, which contains the mitzvah to appoint a king, thus also contains the mitzvot of appointing a police force and the laws relating to a Jewish army. Our inability to have a Jewish army for close to two thousand years served to highlight our national degradation. During the battles...
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