Purim

Purim: Ignoring G-d

March 20, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Purim celebrates the eternity of the Jewish people. Despite exile and dispersion, genocidal enemies and those willing to turn a blind eye to such, the Jewish people are here forever. When Esther sent a letter to the Sages, “kitvuni ledorot,” write me down for the generations (Megillah 7a), she was proclaiming that the story of the Megillah is the story of the Jewish people for all time. Its inclusion in the Biblical...
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Vayikra-Zachor: Remembering Sacrifices

March 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fiercest debates amongst Biblical commentators of the medieval period was to what extent, if at all, parts of the Torah may be seen as allegorical. No less a personage than the Rambam claimed that stories such as the three angels visiting Avraham, or Yaakov’s struggle with an angel, were prophetic visions that did not actually occur. As one can imagine, views such as these—and more radical ones, which allegorized such ...
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Purim: Where is Haman?

February 28, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Where is Haman recorded in the Torah?" So asks the Talmud (Chulin 139b), in a seemingly incomprehensible question. Surely one would not expect to find Haman, living approximately 1,000 years after the close of the Torah, to be mentioned there. The Talmud, seemingly undisturbed by the question, has no problem locating Haman in the Torah, in a verse in Parshat Breisheet: "And He said: Who told you that you are naked...
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Purim: For the People

March 12, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
What should one do when the needs of the Jewish people conflict with the needs of Judaism? When the only way to keep our people Jewishly involved is to bend (or perhaps break) the norms of a traditional way of life? The Jewish people have been debating this question since the Enlightenment. With the ghetto walls crumbling, most Jews sought out new ways to express their Jewishness, unwilling and perhaps unable to maintain traditional frames of...
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Parshat Zachor: Defeating Evil

March 10, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"He shall surely be put to death".  "They shall be pelted with stones and thus stoned to death".  "He shall be burned with fire".  "His soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel ".  "Both shall bear their guilt and die without children".  "Have him flogged with lashes".  These direct quotes—and there are many more examples from which to choose—have their source in our Torah. Sounds...
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