Holiday Thoughts

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...
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Shavuot: Eating Out

May 18, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
How should one celebrate the receiving of the Torah? The Talmud (Pesachim 68b) quotes a seemingly strange argument as to how to properly celebrate Yom Tov in general, and Shavuot in particular. "Rav Eliezer says, a person on Yom Tov either eats and drinks or sits and learns". One may choose how to celebrate, but that choice must be performed with full dedication. Apparently, he felt that trying to celebrate Yom Tov in two different...
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Lag B'Omer: Opposites Attract

May 03, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
It is hard to imagine two people who had a greater influence on the development of Judaism during the dark period of Roman persecution than Rabbi Akiva and one of his most prominent pupils, Rav Shimon bar Yochai. It is even harder to imagine two people more dedicated to learning Torah. Akiva, an ignoramus until the age of forty, became “Rabbi Akiva” by dedicating 24 years—with the encouragement of his wife—to learning and...
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Yom Haatzmaut: Turning Seventy

April 19, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“And Yaakov worked for Rachel for seven years, and they appeared in his eyes like just a few because of his love for her” (Breisheet 29:20). Seven years is a long time to wait to marry the love of one’s life. Seven years is long to wait for almost anything. But some things are worth waiting for, and while the wait was painful, Yaakov saw the seven years as a passing phase to be followed by a lifetime of happiness. If seven...
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Pesach: Preparing to Eat

March 30, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Twice a year, on Yom Kippur and at the Pesach seder, we conclude with the prayer L’shanna haba’ah b’Yerushalayim. It is specifically on these two days when the loss of the Temple is most felt that we express our yearning for Yerushalayim. Yom Kippur centres around the elaborate service in the Temple, one that we re-enact to this day through our Yom Kippur Mussaf davening. With the destruction of...
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