Bamidbar: Change for the Better

May 22, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the hallmarks of a strong society is its ability to smoothly effect change. New leaders and policies, crises and confrontations are all dealt with in an orderly fashion without the threat of violence. New ideas are incorporated within the existing structure. It is a process of evolution, as opposed to revolution.  Many people find change—any change—disconcerting and prefer the status quo, no matter the repercussions. The...
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Bamidbar: What's in a Name?

June 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Bamidbar opens with names and numbers, a theme that continues throughout the book; hence its name, Chumash Pekudim, the book of counting. Apparently, names are much more than mere identifiers. A name represents the essence of a person. "In the merit of not changing our names were we redeemed from Egypt", claims the Midrash. At first glance, it seems quite strange and remarkable that the keeping of our...
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Bamidbar: Natural Life

May 26, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Bamidbar can be viewed as a book of missed opportunities. A small group of Jewish slaves—the midrash claims no more than one in five—showed great faith and resolve as they marched through a barren desert to hear the word of G-d. Under the leadership of Moshe, Miriam and Aharon, they were preparing to enter the land of Israel and thus Sefer Bamidbar opens with the counting of the soldiers who would triumphantly conquer the land.  However,...
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Bamidbar: Making Mistakes

May 23, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In order to be effective, leaders must be sensitive to the feelings and concerns of the general populace. It is not only fact, but also perception that matters. Leaders must have higher ethical standards, and they must also be seen by the public in this light. Any perception (especially if it's true!) that they are above the law renders their moral leadership compromised. An example of such concerns may be seen in the introduction to the...
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Bamidbar: Names and Numbers

May 25, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Parshat Bamidbar is, on its surface, little more that names and numbers. The bulk of the parsha lists the counting of the Jewish people, tribe by tribe. People tend to skim over these “boring details”. Yet names and numbers provide a good deal of insight, representing as they do much more profound ideas. A cursory glance at the names in our parsha highlights a common feature of Torah names. More often than not, biblical names represent ideas and...
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