Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Naso: Counting Our Blessings
A Jew is commanded to recite one hundred blessings each and every day (Menachot 43b). We need constant reminders to ensure that we recognize the blessings of G-d and to remind ourselves that in all of our actions we are to reflect the Divine image. While most of the brachot we make consist of man acknowledging G-d as the master of the world, the priestly blessings are an exception to this pattern. In this particular blessing...Continue Reading »
Shavuot: A Forced Torah?
Our attitude towards Torah is a most fickle one. On the one hand, the Jewish people demonstrated great faith in following Moshe into a barren desert and it is this we recount as we plead for G-d's mercy on Rosh Hashanah. On the other hand, these same people complained at every turn in that same desert. We jumped at the opportunity to accept the Torah, instinctively declaring "na'aseh v'nishma"—yet...Continue Reading »
Bamidbar: What's in a Name?
Sefer Bamidbar opens with names and numbers, a theme that continues throughout the book; hence its name, Chumash Pekudim, the book of counting. Apparently, names are much more than mere identifiers. A name represents the essence of a person. "In the merit of not changing our names were we redeemed from Egypt", claims the Midrash. At first glance, it seems quite strange and remarkable that the keeping of our...Continue Reading »
Bechukotai: Casual Relationships
Twice a year, before Shavuot and Rosh Hashana, we read the tochecha, the list of dire consequences that will, G-d forbid, befall the Jewish people if they do not follow the chukim and mitzvot of the Torah. Panic, economic ruin, cannibalism, death, destruction and exile are spelled out in vivid detail. While we are told that we must, in general, follow the chukim and mitzvot, surprisingly, the...Continue Reading »
Behar: Working for G-d
The Torah was wary of the employer-employee relationship. Almost by definition, an employee is not much different than a slave; both are told what to do, when to do it and how it is to be done. “For [all of] you are slaves unto Me” (Vayikra 25:55). As our Sages teach, we are not meant to be slaves of slaves. It can be quite natural for an employer to treat his employee like a slave, even if the employee is treated with dignity. To...Continue Reading »