Holiday Thoughts

Parshat Zachor: Defeating Evil

March 10, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"He shall surely be put to death".  "They shall be pelted with stones and thus stoned to death".  "He shall be burned with fire".  "His soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel ".  "Both shall bear their guilt and die without children".  "Have him flogged with lashes".  These direct quotes—and there are many more examples from which to choose—have their source in our Torah. Sounds...
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Chanukah: 70 Bulls and 8 Lights

December 25, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing Jewishly conscious people in the modern world is figuring out the proper relationship we are to have vis a vis the outside world. Should it be one of rejection, integration or compromise? The above models have all been tried and have all met with varying degrees of success. As the challenges of the outside world are constantly changing, so must our approach; what works in one generation may be a disaster for...
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Shabbat Chol HaMoed: Let's Skip This Year

October 21, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Keep the harvest festival as the year changes" (Shemot 34:22). This (half) verse is the only reference to Sukkoth (or more precisely Chag Ha'aseif, the harvest festival) in the Torah reading that our Sages have ordained for Shabbat Chol Hamoed. It seems like a rather weak reason for this reading. Actually, the Torah reading chosen for Sukkoth seems much more appropriate for Yom Kippur. Its main focus is the aftermath of...
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Sukkot: Fear and Joy

October 16, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Jewish year begins with the aseret yemei teshuva, the ten days of repentance. They begin with the strict justice of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Hadin; and culminate on Yom Kippur, with its unique opportunity for forgiveness. The intensity of these days is reflected in our liturgy, our special customs, and in Jewish law, where certain stringencies are recommended only during these ten days. The unique nature of the “High Holy...
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Yom Kippur: Play Ball!

October 14, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“There are those who acquire their world in one moment” (Avodah Zara 18a). One action can define a life. While some people have to work their entire lives to be worthy of entering the World to Come, others can acquire their eternal reward with one powerful act. Such a moment occurred, it seems to me, when Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, announced that he would not pitch the opening game of the 1965...
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