Holiday Thoughts

Aseret Yemi Teshuva: I Confess

October 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Integral to the teshuva process is the act of vidui, confession. One can intellectually know one has done something wrong; one can even feel terrible about it. But unless and until one verbalizes that one has sinned—and for sins against our fellow man, vidui should be done publicly (Hilchot Teshuva, 2:5)—teshuva cannot be complete. It is precisely because it is so hard to admit a wrong,...
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Rosh Hashanah: Early, Late or Just Right

September 28, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And on the seventh month on the first day of the month, it shall be a day of rest. It is a sacred day for remembrance and blowing" (Vayikra 23:24). What the Torah calls a day of blowing (of the ram's horn) is more commonly known as Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. Yet the seventh month seems an odd time to be celebrating the start of a new year. We are apparently six months late…or perhaps it is six months early...
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Tu BAv: Coming Together

August 16, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the lessons Nehama Leibowitz, z”l, drilled into us during the time I was fortunate to study with her was that if Rashi has two explanations for a pasuk, it means he was not fully satisfied with either. Had he been, he would have given only that one explanation. If such is true regarding just two explanations, what can we say about something that has six explanations?  “Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said:...
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Shavuot: A Forced Torah?

June 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our attitude towards Torah is a most fickle one. On the one hand, the Jewish people demonstrated great faith in following Moshe into a barren desert and it is this we recount as we plead for G-d's mercy on Rosh Hashanah. On the other hand, these same people complained at every turn in that same desert. We jumped at the opportunity to accept the Torah, instinctively declaring "na'aseh v'nishma"—yet...
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Yom Haatzmaut: Thoughts at Seventy-One

May 09, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The period of sefirat haomer has undergone great transformation over the ages. In the Torah itself, it links the korban haomer brought on the second day of Pesach with the korban shtei halechem brought on Shavuot, thereby connecting the barley and wheat harvests. Each day of the grain harvest season was an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.  Sometime during...
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