Vayeshev: Look Out the Window

December 04, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Why was it that Abraham and Yitzchak had only one child who would remain within the Jewish people while Yaakov merited that all his children would be part of the Abrahamic covenant?   We should not expect the Bible to answer this question. The Torah describes  selected events, leaving out many others, and leaves the interpretation to us. It is extremely rare for the Torah to offer “commentary” on its...
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VaYeshev: The Sounds of Silence

December 12, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It takes much thought and hard work to learn when to speak up and when to remain silent. Often, we find ourselves in trouble because of a loose and fast tongue that spoke too soon. Of course, at other times, when the occasion demands that we summon the courage to speak out, we are often nowhere to be found as we merrily mind our own business. "And Yosef brought a bad report to their father"(37:3). While our Sages affirm that...
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Vayeshev: The President and the Viceroy

November 22, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the messages I try to hammer home to my students is that everything in the Torah can be understood as editorial comments on current events. Greed, temptation, family problems, substance abuse, heroism, war, loyalty--you name it, it is right there in the Torah. The Torah has little interest in history, only recording that which is morally relevant for us today. This approach is encapsulated in the rabbinic observation that thousands of...
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Vayeshev: And Yehuda Went Down

December 09, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And Yehuda saw her [his daughter-in-law Tamar], and he thought she was a harlot, because her face was covered" (38:15). Presumably, covering one's face was not the norm, and Tamar's doing so raised suspicion that she likely had something to hide.How times have changed! Today, we surely would not expect a prostitute to walk around with her face covered; the "harlots" of today have very little that is covered. Those who cover their faces today...
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