Holiday Thoughts

Yom Kippur: Bedtime Stories

September 29, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 619:6) quotes a custom to remain in shul through the night of Yom Kippur, singing songs of praise to G-d. While some question the wisdom of this custom, cogently arguing that to do so would make concentration in prayer on the day of Yom Kippur most difficult (see Mishna Berura 616:14), the custom reflects the deep yearning of the Jewish people to feel the presence of G-d on the day of the year when He is...
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Rosh Hashanah: Time for Prayer

September 20, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Rosh Hashanah is first and foremost a day of prayer. Prayer, as Rav Soloveitchik often noted, is rooted in asking G-d to fulfil our needs. One who is fully satisfied with his life has no need to pray. As the Yom haDin, the Day of Judgment, approaches, our needs and thus, the amount of time spent in prayer grows—such that on Yom Kippur, when our fate is sealed, the entire day is spent in prayer. The Torah readings on Rosh...
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Shavuot: Messianic Origins

May 30, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And these are the generations of Peretz…. Shalmon begot Boaz…and Yishai begot David" (Rut 4:18-22). So ends the Book of Rut, read on Shavuot, detailing the link from Peretz to David, the forerunner of the Mashiach. The birth of Peretz himself is described in sefer Breisheet, and what an unholy birth it was. Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Yehudah, who lost two husbands and found herself in limbo waiting for a third, “took off her widow’s garb and...
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Pesach: Hope for the Best

April 16, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Pesach is the Jewish holiday of hope. It marks the beginning of the Jewish (lunar) year – and new years are always times of hope. It is celebrated in the spring, the wonderful season of hope and renewal. We read Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, with its allegorical youthful message of love, which is only possible when hope abounds. The Seder night is full of hope for a better tomorrow—a redeemed world living in peace. We look forward to G-d...
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Pesach: Now that is Slavery!

April 10, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our images of Egyptian slavery are those of forced labor and murder by a ruthless tyrant and his many followers. Despite Joseph literally saving Egypt from ruin, "a new king arose who knew not Joseph" (Shemot 1:8). Taxation, hard labor, loss of freedom of movement and eventually murder of Jewish children soon followed. This was a nation who knew not G-d, and even after ten plagues and the death of their firstborn, persisted in their stubbornness...
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