Holiday Thoughts

Chanukah: The Dark Days of Winter

December 11, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Of all our holidays, only that of Chanukah begins in the second half of the month. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Shavuot occur towards the beginning of the month, when the moon is growing stronger. Pesach, Sukkot, Purim (at least in Jerusalem), Tu b'Av, and Tu b'Shvat are all celebrated on the 15th of the month, when the moon is full. Even Tisha b'Av falls during the first half of the month. Our Sages saw within destruction the...
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Vzot Habracha: It too is a Blessing

October 04, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In one of the great mistakes in history, Alfred Nobel was lucky enough to read his own obituary—a result of an error of an editor who printed Alfred’s obituary instead of that of his recently deceased brother. Reading himself described as the “merchant of death” led him to donate his vast estate to charity and create the Nobel prizes. Many today are not even aware that Nobel was the inventor of dynamite. Few and far...
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Sukkot: From Eisav to Shmitta

September 27, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  "And you shall dwell in sukkot for seven days, all citizens of Israel shall dwell in a sukkah so that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your G-d" (Vayikra 23:42-43).    The story of Sukkot does not begin with the exodus from Egypt. It began over 200 years earlier in the encounter between Yaakov and Eisav....
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Yom Kippur: It's Not my Fault

September 22, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The two central and most important tefillot of Yom Kippur are the yud gimmel middot harachamim, the 13 Attributes of mercy, and the al chets, the listing of the sins we (may have) committed during the previous year. The former focus on G-d while the latter focus on man.  “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed' (Shemot 34:6): Rav Yochanan said: Were it not written in the text, it would be...
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Rosh Hashanah: A Great Gift!

September 13, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Teshuva tefillah, utzedkaha ma’aveerim et roah hagezeirah - repentance, prayer and tzedakah remove the evil of the decree. Prayer is a great gift from G-d[1]. That the Divine allows human beings, full of sin to approach Him and beseech Him is something we are to be most grateful for. Like many a gift we often do not appreciate what we have been granted. For many prayer is a burden, an obligation that we think we...
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