Holiday Thoughts

Some Thoughts on This Year's Yamim Noraim

September 16, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Yamim Noraim of the year 70 must have been quite traumatic. The Temple had been destroyed less than two months earlier and thousands lay dead, with many others exiled. Never in anyone’s lifetime had there been such a disruption to the normal routine of life. Could Judaism survive, and if so, in what form? “The house of prayer for all nations” lay in ruins, and surely there was no way to observe Yom Kippur. How...
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Tu B'Av: Breaking the Glass

August 05, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the best-known wedding customs is the breaking of a glass during the chuppah. The common explanation given for this custom is that it serves as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple. Our breaking of the glass is meant as a fulfilment of the verse, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten; let my tongue stick to my palate if I do not mention you, if I do not raise Jerusalem above my highest joy...
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Tisha B'Av: Back to School

July 29, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
If someone gives you ten answers to a question, the one thing you can be assured of is that none of the answers is a very a good one. If one has a good answer to a question, one has no need for an additional answer, which may actually serve to weaken one’s arguments.  One of the most common expressions of the Gemara, v’tzreecha, “it is needed”, is used where the Gemara is forced to explain why it...
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The Nine Days: Aharon's Yahrzeit

July 21, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Aharon the priest ascended Hor Hahar and died there in the fortieth year... in the fifth month on the first of the month” (Bamidbar 33:38). It is on rare occasions that the Torah actually dates events recorded therein. Even the giving of the Torah at Sinai has no biblical date associated with it. Birthdays, anniversaries and yahrzeits are of little interest to the Bible. The tradition that Moshe dies on the 7th of Adar is one...
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Shavuot: An Evolving Torah

May 29, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Yossi said: It would have been appropriate had the Torah been given through Ezra, but Moshe preceded him… and even though the Torah was not given by him [Ezra], it was changed by him” (Sanhedrin 21b). The Talmud explains that this change relates to the “font” of the Torah, which was changed from ketav Ivri, the initial font in which the Torah was given, to ketav Ashurit, the “font...
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