Holiday Thoughts

Tu BAv: Coming Together

August 16, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the lessons Nehama Leibowitz, z”l, drilled into us during the time I was fortunate to study with her was that if Rashi has two explanations for a pasuk, it means he was not fully satisfied with either. Had he been, he would have given only that one explanation. If such is true regarding just two explanations, what can we say about something that has six explanations?  “Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said:...
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Shavuot: A Forced Torah?

June 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our attitude towards Torah is a most fickle one. On the one hand, the Jewish people demonstrated great faith in following Moshe into a barren desert and it is this we recount as we plead for G-d's mercy on Rosh Hashanah. On the other hand, these same people complained at every turn in that same desert. We jumped at the opportunity to accept the Torah, instinctively declaring "na'aseh v'nishma"—yet...
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Yom Haatzmaut: Thoughts at Seventy-One

May 09, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The period of sefirat haomer has undergone great transformation over the ages. In the Torah itself, it links the korban haomer brought on the second day of Pesach with the korban shtei halechem brought on Shavuot, thereby connecting the barley and wheat harvests. Each day of the grain harvest season was an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.  Sometime during...
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Last Day(s) of Pesach: Reach for the Top

April 25, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
As we all know too well, there is often a gap between the ideal and reality. In trying to implement our goals, we all too often fall prey to conflict, apathy, inertia and reality. The Jewish people faced this same problem as they approached the sea. Behind them was the advancing Egyptian army with its mighty chariots; in front of them was a foreboding sea. Yet their miraculous escape from the most powerful country on earth seemed to have finally...
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Pesach: Have You Left Egypt?

April 19, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“In each and every generation, one must see oneself as if they had left Egypt”.  In Judaism, we not only commemorate the past, we attempt to experience it, even to re-live it. Why else do we actually have to eat matzah and maror at Pesach, dwell in some flimsy booths each fall, or sit on the floor on Tisha B’Av lamenting the loss of a Temple some 2,000 years ago?  Yet thankfully, for most Jews today, it is...
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