Holiday Thoughts

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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Pesach: A Long Short Story

April 14, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And it was at the end of four hundred and thirty years, in the middle of that very day, that the legions of G-d went out from the land of Egypt” (Shemot 12:41). After 430 years, does it really matter what day and what time of the day we left Egypt? Redemption is both an event and a process. It can simultaneously happen both in a day and yet take 430 years. “It was at midnight, that the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land...
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Acharei Mot: Celebrating Pesach on Yom Kippur

April 11, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is quite rare to read parshat Acharei Mot on Shabbat Hagadol. In non-leap years, it is generally parshat Tzav that is read on Shabbat Hagadol. And when we do have a leap year, it is usually parshat Metzora that is read as we get set to usher in Pesach. While this or any other connection between the parsha and Pesach is “coincidental”, there is much that unites Acharei Mot with Pesach. Acharei...
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Purim: Inadvertent Leaders

March 13, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Rare is the person who has the opportunity to knowingly shape the course of Jewish history. Most are happy to be relieved of that responsibility. From Moshe to Yonah, Yirmiyahu to Esther, few are willing to carry such awesome responsibility on their shoulders. And even—or, shall we say, especially—when taken on willingly, the burden can be too much to handle. How can one be confident in a decision made today, the impact of which will...
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