Holiday Thoughts

Tisha B'Av: The Joy of Jerusalem

August 03, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit seeing its joy" (Ta'anit 30b). Our Sages seem to be offering words of comfort to those pious Jews over the millennium, who faithfully internalized the suffering of the Jewish people. Though they would not merit seeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem in their own lifetime—that is a blessing reserved for our generation—they would merit seeing the joy of Jerusalem after they were...
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Shavuot: Why Were We Chosen?

June 03, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"It was taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Why was the Torah given to the Jewish people?" (Beitzah 25a). The simple answer—made famous by a Midrash that is taught at a very young age in all Jewish schools—is that we wanted to. "The Lord came from Sinai and rose from Seir unto them, He shined forth from Mount Paran (Devarim 33:2)...Rav Yochanan says: This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, offered the Torah to...
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Yom Yerushalayim Thoughts

May 28, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Ten miracles were performed for our ancestors in the Beit Hamikdash...and no one ever said to his fellow, 'the place is too cramped for me to sleep in Jerusalem'" (Avot 5:7). Jerusalem was a very small city, populated primarily by priests working in the Temple, rabbis sitting on the Sanhedrin, and civil servants taking care of the administrative functions of a capital city. Yet, three times a year, Jerusalem was filled with...
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Lag BaOmer Thoughts

May 18, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Lag BaOmer is a mysterious holiday. There is no mention of it in the Gemara, a fact that led the Chatam Sofer to object to the many practices of the day that had come into vogue. The two standard explanations for this holiday are that it is the day that the students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying, and that it is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (or perhaps the day in which the decree of the Romans to kill him was...
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Yom Ha'atzmaut: The Most Important Mitzvah

May 06, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the Rambam's principles of faith is the eternity of the Torah. While historical circumstances may prevent the performance of certain mitzvoth, the mitzvah of Talmud Torah encompasses these "theoretical" mitzvoth as we hope that these mitzvoth will soon move from the theoretical realm to the practical. After close to 2,000 years in exile, mitzvoth that were once dormant have come back to life. The Torah is no longer just a...
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