Shemot: The Ineffable Name

December 20, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And he saw an Egyptian man hitting a Hebrew of his brothers" (2:11). To the slave in Egypt, being beaten up by our tormentors was the norm, and the Jewish people--having no recourse or justice--suffered in silence. Moshe's act of fighting back on behalf of some "lowly" slave was shocking for those immersed in Egyptian culture, and it nearly cost him his life. With the Jews learning to defend themselves, the process of...
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Shemot: Baa Baa Black Sheep

January 04, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And Moshe was tending to the sheep of his father-in-law, Yitro, the priest of Midian... and an angel of G-d appeared to Moshe” (Shemot 3:1-2). Something about Moshe’s tending of sheep was so special that it led G-d to appear to him. Rashi notes that Moshe tended the flock “on the edge of the desert”, so that there would be no possibility of the sheep grazing in the fields of others. This ethical refinement was the...
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Shemot: Irrational Thinking

January 13, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Amongst the unsung heroes of the Jewish people are Shifra and Puah. Despite the genocidal decrees of the Egyptian regime against Jewish newborns, these two unknown women risked their lives to save the lives of others. This is all the more remarkable according to those commentaries that claim that Shifra and Puah were non-Jews, and thus, the first of the Righteous Gentiles.Surely they had to know that they might be caught—and they were. The...
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Shemot: No Names

December 28, 2007 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Shemot, literally, “book of names”, seems to be a misnomer for our Parsha.  (Rabbinic writings often refer to it as “book of redemption".) While the Torah lists the names of the 12 sons of Jacob who came to Egypt with their families, the Jewish people quickly became a nameless and faceless people; something that, in all likelihood, contributed to their eventual slavery. While numerous, there were apparently no outstanding leaders...
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