Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

VaYigash: Looking Ahead

December 14, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Since the time of Joseph, infighting has been the Achilles heel of the Jewish people, causing untold pain, suffering and national calamity. So much of our collective energies are wasted on disagreements with others; many of them are so trivial when viewed from the perspective of history. The schisms of the 19th century, caused to a large extent by such topics as sermons in the vernacular or the placement of the bimah in a shul, are...
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Mikketz: Boom and Bust

December 07, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the central motifs of the biblical narrative is food. Matzah, manna, and mei merivah help to highlight the crucial role of food in shaping the course of Jewish history. The entire course of human destiny was changed due to Adam and Eve’s eating from the eitz hada'at. To a great extent our holiest days of the year, Shabbat and Yom Tov, centre on food. Even Yom Kippur is preceded by a Biblical...
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VaYeshev: Respectfully Declined

November 30, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“And Yaakov ripped his garments and put sackcloth on his loins, and he mourned for his son many days” (Breisheet 37:34). Thinking—with good reason—that Yosef, his favourite son, was dead, Yaakov was inconsolable, and he “refused to be comforted” (Breisheet 38:33). His misery was compounded by the fact that there was no body, no funeral, and thus, no possibility of closure. Yet our Sages (Megillah 17a)...
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VaYishlach: Alone at Night

November 23, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“Therefore, the Jewish people will not eat the gid hanasheh, sciatic nerve, that is on the hip joint, to this day” (Breisheet 32:33).  Sefer Breisheet provides much information on how not to act; we read about every kind of social dysfunction—be it drinking, sibling rivalry, jealousy, greed or more violent crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, rape, incest and murder. Unfortunately, many of the...
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Vayetze: The Complexity of Chesed

November 16, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
The Torah is a most complex work, and nowhere more so than in sefer Breisheet. Story after story lends itself to multiple and contradictory interpretations. The Torah often leaves out crucial details as it narrates the stories, and rarely passes judgment on the actions of the protagonists. Was Avraham correct to go to Egypt when famine struck Israel? Was it appropriate to enter a peace deal with Avimelech? Did Yaakov act correctly in...
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