Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Chukat: Time to Talk

June 22, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Parshat Chukat marks the transition from the generation that left Egypt to the one that would enter the Land of Israel. This was a transition marked by death and thus, the Torah's description of the laws of purity and impurity stemming from contact with death form the opening unit of the parsha. The leaders of the nation - Miriam, Aharon and Moshe - would not be spared the fate of the people and would also have to die in the desert. They would...
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Korach: Holy and More Holy

June 15, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah was "edited" with great precision. Narrative and law are often intertwined; one sheds light on the other. While our tradition teaches that the entire corpus of Biblical Law was given at Sinai, many, if not most, of the laws are recorded in multiple places in the Torah, each instance of repetition adding nuances and shadings of meaning. The principle of ein mukdam umeuchar baTorah, events in the Torah...
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Shelach Lecha: An Old Name

June 08, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Of the twelve men sent to bring back a report about the land of Israel, only one of them—Yehoshua—has previously been mentioned in the Torah. During the war against Amalek, Yehoshua served as the commanding officer leading them into battle. This military experience would serve him well for his mission forty years later when he would lead the Jewish people in their conquest of the land of Israel.  We also meet Yehoshua when he...
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Beha'alotcha: Out of Order

June 01, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And G-d spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert in the second year of the exodus from Egypt in the first month" (Bamidbar 9:1). The story and laws of Pesach Sheni - the opportunity for those who were unable to bring the pesach sacrifice a second chance to do so - to which the above verse refers is the chronological opening to the book of Bamidbar. Yet this verse appears only in chapter nine. Chapter one of Bamidbar opens "on the...
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Nasso: More is Less

May 25, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah uses its words sparingly. Many key laws such as the details of what is forbidden on Shabbat, the description of tefillin, how to slaughter animals, and how to annul vows are only hinted at, or not even mentioned at all in the Torah. It is only through the Oral Law that we can begin to understand how to observe these laws. Yet strangely enough the Torah devotes 89 verses to describing the gifts that the leaders of each tribe brought to...
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