Holiday Thoughts

Chanukah: Back to the Future

December 14, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Mai Chanukah? What is Chanukah? the Talmud (Shabbat 21ba) queries, a question we find with respect to no other holiday. The Talmud explains that Chanukah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days, allowing the needed time to prepare fresh pure oil. However, in reciting al hanissim during davening and birchat hamazon, the focus is very different. Here the miracle of Chanukah is...
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Shmini Atzeret: A Dual Holiday

October 09, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Jewish holidays have two distinct themes. The shalosh regalim, three pilgrim festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, occurring at key agricultural seasons, are a time to reflect on our material blessings, specifically in the land of Israel. Concurrently, these same holidays commemorate the formative historical events in the founding of our nation, affording an opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Jewish people. Rosh...
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Sukkot: Leading by Example

October 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For many years, students were introduced to the study of Talmud with Eilu Metziot, the second chapter of masechet Bava Metzia, focusing on the mitzvah of hashavat aveidah, returning lost objects. Beyond the technical details of this mitzvah, Talmud study is introduced with a message about helping others. The mitzvah of hashavat aveidah is a chidush, an original teaching, of the Torah. It requires us to...
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Sukkot: A Very Open Sukkah

October 02, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For seven days a year, one is to “make his home temporary and his Sukkah permanent”. Ideally, we move our finest furniture, china, and even our bedroom set into the Sukkah, our “fall home”. While our modern-day living habits make much of this extremely impractical, the Sukkah is meant to be our home for the week.  Yet while we spend much effort beautifying our Sukkah, the actual construction of a Sukkah requires far...
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The Sukkah of Yom Kippur

September 30, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
As important (if not more so) as what one says is how it is said, when it is said, and what is not said. This is equally true regarding both our interactions with other people and our religious texts. Form is as important as substance. So much of Jewish law is derived by looking at form over substance, the 39 forbidden activities of Shabbat being just one of many examples[1]. When it comes to our sacred texts, there is no one more adept at...
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