Holiday Thoughts

Shabbat Chol HaMoed: Context is Key

September 28, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
When studying literature we must study not only its content, but also its form. This is especially true in the study of poetry, where the words themselves offer only a limited understanding of the text. Our Torah, in addition to being a description of the Divine, is a work of profound literature and poetry[1], and our understanding of it is greatly enhanced when we apply literary analysis to its study. The Torah presents the holidays in a...
Continue Reading »

Sukkoth: The Beauty of the Etrog

September 23, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Judaism is not oblivious to the power and even importance of physical beauty. Phrases such as yefat tohar v’yefot ma’areh, loosely translated as very attractive, is one we find in the Torah to describe such heroines as Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Esther. The Beit HaMikdash—and, by extension, our shuls—had to physically reflect the fact that it is the dwelling place of G-d. Beauty is to be obvious to all who enter...
Continue Reading »

Yom Kippur: Welcoming the Evil Inclination

September 18, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“For the sin that we sinned before you with the evil inclination”.  The double alphabetic acrostic of the al chet lists a wide range of areas in which we have not lived up to our potential. Misuse of speech, lack of integrity in our monetary dealings, getting caught up in the loose moral values of our society, infighting, and our general lack of respect for man and G-d are some of the sins mentioned....
Continue Reading »

Let's Listen To Some Lashon Hara

September 12, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: the majority [of people sin] regarding theft, a minority regarding adultery, and all with lashon hara” (Bava Batra 165a).   Not surprisingly, these three sins make up a significant portion of the al chets we recite on Yom Kippur. And if one wonders what areas one might focus on in seeking to do better, any of the above would be a good place to start....
Continue Reading »

Rosh Hashanah: A Call to Unity

September 09, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
The blowing of the shofar is a most enigmatic mitzvah. The reasons we eat matzah, sit in the Sukkah or take the lulav are readily apparent; they commemorate historical events and/or agricultural seasons. Yet the reason for the blowing of the shofar leaves us mystified. As far as we can tell from the Bible, no actual events took place on the "first day of the seventh month" that would warrant it being declared a...
Continue Reading »

Pages