Yitro: The Essence of Torah

February 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Fulfilling G-d's commandments is the essence of Torah. "If not for my covenant, day and night, the laws of heaven and earth, I would not have established" (Yirmiyahu 33:25). Rashi begins his commentary on Chumash asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation. Being a book of mitzvot, one might posit that it should have begun with the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people, namely, the...
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Yitro: Yes and No

January 24, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe lei'mor is the most commonly occurring verse of the Bible. While it is usually translated as, “G-d spoke to Moshe, saying”, our rabbis saw additional meaning in the word lei'mor. If it only meant “saying”, then it would be superfluous; if the Torah tells us that G-d spoke to Moshe, then surely something was said. Rather, our Sages...
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Yitro: Honouring Parents, Teaching Children

February 02, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The command to respect our parents, kibud av v'eim, is one that needs little explanation. It is the most rational and logical of mitzvoth, one that we would observe even were we not commanded by the Torah to do so, and one that we expect all human beings to perform. Unlike Shabbat, which precedes it in the aseret hadibrot, no rationale is given for this mitzvah; none is needed. The Talmud (Kiddushin 31a) claims that the...
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Yitro: I Love My In-Laws

February 17, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Moses went to greet his father-in-law, bowing down low and kissing him” (Shemot 18:7). Unfortunately, relations between children- and theri in-laws are not always so rosy and are often marred by jealousy, power struggles and outright animosity. One need look no further than the eternal king of Israel, Dovid Hamelech, and his troubles with his own father-in-law, Shaul. In fact, the Talmud tells us that even in a case of...
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Yitro: A Joint Project

January 29, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
What kind of book is the Torah and who is it meant for? Rashi begins his commentary to the Torah, with the supposition that the Torah is primarily a legal book instructing the Jewish people how to lead their lives. This is the premise of his query as to why the Torah starts with the story of Creation and not with the first mitzva given to the Jewish people. In answering his question Rashi fundamentally changes our...
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