Holiday Thoughts

Yom Kippur: Welcoming the Evil Inclination

September 18, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“For the sin that we sinned before you with the evil inclination”.  The double alphabetic acrostic of the al chet lists a wide range of areas in which we have not lived up to our potential. Misuse of speech, lack of integrity in our monetary dealings, getting caught up in the loose moral values of our society, infighting, and our general lack of respect for man and G-d are some of the sins mentioned....
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Let's Listen To Some Lashon Hara

September 12, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: the majority [of people sin] regarding theft, a minority regarding adultery, and all with lashon hara” (Bava Batra 165a).   Not surprisingly, these three sins make up a significant portion of the al chets we recite on Yom Kippur. And if one wonders what areas one might focus on in seeking to do better, any of the above would be a good place to start....
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Rosh Hashanah: A Call to Unity

September 09, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The blowing of the shofar is a most enigmatic mitzvah. The reasons we eat matzah, sit in the Sukkah or take the lulav are readily apparent; they commemorate historical events and/or agricultural seasons. Yet the reason for the blowing of the shofar leaves us mystified. As far as we can tell from the Bible, no actual events took place on the "first day of the seventh month" that would warrant it being declared a...
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Shavuot: Eating Out

May 18, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
How should one celebrate the receiving of the Torah? The Talmud (Pesachim 68b) quotes a seemingly strange argument as to how to properly celebrate Yom Tov in general, and Shavuot in particular. "Rav Eliezer says, a person on Yom Tov either eats and drinks or sits and learns". One may choose how to celebrate, but that choice must be performed with full dedication. Apparently, he felt that trying to celebrate Yom Tov in two different...
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Lag B'Omer: Opposites Attract

May 03, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is hard to imagine two people who had a greater influence on the development of Judaism during the dark period of Roman persecution than Rabbi Akiva and one of his most prominent pupils, Rav Shimon bar Yochai. It is even harder to imagine two people more dedicated to learning Torah. Akiva, an ignoramus until the age of forty, became “Rabbi Akiva” by dedicating 24 years—with the encouragement of his wife—to learning and...
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