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...
Continue Reading »

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...
Continue Reading »

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...
Continue Reading »

Shushan Purim: From Purim to Pesach

March 25, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“When Adar enters, we increase our joy” (Taanit 29a). Presumably, the increased joy is due to the upcoming Purim festivities, the most joyous of Jewish holidays. Yet somewhat surprisingly, Rashi explains that our increased joy is due not only to the miracles of Purim, but to those of Pesach as well. It is because we want to link Purim and Pesach that we celebrate Purim in Adar II (Megillah 6b). By all rights we should have...
Continue Reading »

Purim: One Is More Than Many

March 23, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  "It was contemptible in his eyes to harm Mordechai alone; for they identified for him the people of Mordechai; Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Achashverosh, the people of Mordechai" (Esther 3:6).   The above sounds like what we would call today classic anti-Semitism. Blame all Jews for the actions of one, and take out that hatred on all. To anti-Semites of the world,...
Continue Reading »