Holiday Thoughts

Shavuot: Strange Bedfellows

May 22, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Chanukah and Purim. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret. The aforementioned holidays form natural units. When one thinks of Shavuot, the natural association is Pesach. After all, Shavuot has no independent date; it is 50 days after Pesach, a fact we highlight during each and every of the forty-nine intervening nights. The entire purpose of the Exodus was to arrive at Sinai and accept the Torah. Not only are Pesach...
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Shavuot: An Evolving Torah

May 22, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Yossi said: It would have been appropriate had the Torah been given through Ezra, but Moshe preceded him… and even though the Torah was not given by him [Ezra], it was changed by him” (Sanhedrin 21b). The Talmud explains that this change relates to the “font” of the Torah, which was changed from ketav Ivri, the initial font in which the Torah was given, to ketav Ashurit, the “font...
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Pesach: Looking Forward

April 09, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There is something most beautiful about a holiday that celebrates our past being focused on future, on our children. Pesach marks the founding of our people, and it is the story of our past that we retell at our seder. “We begin with shame and end with glory”. There is much tragedy in our history, but so much greatness, so much to be proud of. This recounting of the past is so crucial to our way of life that the mitzvah to recall...
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Pesach: Pass the Karpas

April 03, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Therefore, in every generation, one must see themselves as if they have left Egypt”. All too often, we can only fully appreciate what we have when it is missing. Freedom is so much sweeter for those who have experienced slavery. And on seder night, we are to experience both.  “And you shall eat the meat [of the pascal lamb] on that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs you shall eat it...
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The Fast of the Eighth of Tevet: Lost in Translation

December 30, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"I recall with distress that which befell me; with three blows He struck me this month...He surrounded me on the eighth day with darkness, left and right. Behold, all these three [days] are established as a fast, for the Greek king forced me to write in the Greek religion" (Opening of Selichot for the tenth of Tevet). Perhaps the greatest transformation of Torah learning in recent generations is the massive availability of Torah...
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