Holiday Thoughts

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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Chanukah: Moving Home

November 29, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
On the surface, it is difficult to understand why we celebrate Chanukah, a festival commemorating the rededication of the Temple and Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. We should have ceased to celebrate Chanukah in the year 70 when the Temple was destroyed, as we did all the other holidays (except Purim) listed in Megilat Taanit. That scroll listed the many holidays celebrating joyous events of the second Temple era. With no Temple, there...
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Chanukah: Turkey and Latkes

November 28, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Chanukah is a most popular holiday, even amongst “secular” Jews. For those living in Israel, the vastly outnumbered Maccabees defeating the powerful Greek/Syrian army has great resonance for an independent Jewish state surrounded by many enemies. In his opening to the laws of Chanukah, the Rambam highlights the significance of military victory and the fact that “sovereignty was returned to the Jewish people for more than 200...
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Sukkot: No Pain, No Gain

September 18, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Talmud classifies sukkah as a mitzvah kalla, a light and easy mitzvah. Where one must be almost deathly ill before one is permitted to eat on Yom Kippur or to violate many other Torah prohibitions, such is not the case with the sukkah. Here, a little discomfort—some rain, very hot weather, a few bees—and one may leave the sukkah; "mitztaer patur misukah", one who is uncomfortable is exempt from...
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Yom Kippur: 20/20 Vision

September 13, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In trying to develop the potential of man, the Mussar movement[1] developed two different approaches to the sinning of man. One school of thought, exemplified by the approach developed in Novordak, stressed the lowliness of man--our propensity to sin, our animalistic tendencies and our need for repentance. The second school of thought, represented by Slobodka, stressed the greatness of man--created in the image of G-d, tasked with building...
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