Holiday Thoughts

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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Yom Yerushalayim: Natural and Supernatural

May 21, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Jewish nation waited for close to 1,900 years to regain sovereignty over G-d’s chosen land. It took an additional 19 years until sovereignty was established “in the place that I will choose to place My name” (Devarim 12:11). The famous words of Brigade Commander Motta Gur, “Har haBayit b’yadeinu, the Temple Mount is in our hands,” marked one of the momentous events of Jewish history; the presence...
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Yom Haatzmaut: Thoughts at Seventy-two

April 29, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Shimon ben Azzai said: I have received a tradition from the seventy-two elders on the day when they appointed Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah head of the academy, that all sacrifices which are eaten, though slaughtered shelo lishma, without proper intent, are valid except that their owners have not fulfilled their obligation, except the Paschal lamb and the chatat, the sin offering” (Mishna Zevachim 1:3...
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Pesach: Good and Comfortable

April 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Seemingly, one of the more depressing debates in rabbinic literature is one that the houses of Hillel and Shammai argued about for two-and-half years: "These say: It would have been preferable had man not been created than to have been created. And those said: It is preferable for man to have been created than had he not been created" (Eiruvin 13b). Even more depressing is the conclusion reached by the Talmud that, ...
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Pesach: The Simple Wise Son

April 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Much ink has been spilled and much discussion ensued in trying to analyze the difference between the question of the chacham and the rasha. On the basis of the question alone, there appears to be little reason to identify one as wicked and the other as wise. When all is said and done, the line between good and evil is often very thin indeed. It is not easy to know how and why one child will use his wisdom for good and another...
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