Holiday Thoughts

Purim: Where is Haman?

February 28, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
"Where is Haman recorded in the Torah?" So asks the Talmud (Chulin 139b), in a seemingly incomprehensible question. Surely one would not expect to find Haman, living approximately 1,000 years after the close of the Torah, to be mentioned there. The Talmud, seemingly undisturbed by the question, has no problem locating Haman in the Torah, in a verse in Parshat Breisheet: "And He said: Who told you that you are naked...
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Chanukah: Looking Backward and Forward

December 13, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman
The holiday of Chanukah is a most beloved one. Lighting the candles is the only mitzvah that has, built into its performance, a three-tiered system: what we may call good, better and best. We begin with the basic mitzvah of one candle per household on each of the eight nights of Chanukah. We may opt for the more beautified version, mehadrin, where we light candles according to the number of people in the home on each night. Finally,...
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Sukkot: All in One

October 04, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman
Sukkot marks the beginning of the end of the holiday season. As the fall season commences, and as the days get progressively shorter and colder, festivities become more difficult. Travelling to Jerusalem for inspiration is no longer feasible and we must rely on the spiritual renewal gained during the previous six months of holidays. Our sages noted that in reality, Sukkot should be celebrated in the spring. After all, the Torah tells us that...
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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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