Ki Teitzei

Ki-Teze: Demanding More

August 22, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
When studying Torah we must study not only its content, but also its form; not just what the Torah says, but also how it says it. Proper study requires that we analyze, as best we can, the editorial decisions of the Divine author of the Torah.  Why, for example, are the laws of shmitta divided such that the agricultural aspects are presented in parshat Behar, whereas the fact that outstanding...
Continue Reading »

Ki-Teze: What a Story!

September 01, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman
A legal brief and a good story are two very different forms of writing. We have even coined a term, legalese, to describe the distinct writing style employed by many a lawyer. The departments of law and that of literature have little to do with each other.  Such is not the case with the Torah. Narrative often serves as the backdrop to the law, shedding light on many a command. Narrative tells us how we should live, while...
Continue Reading »

Ki Teze: A Dual Story

September 16, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman
In studying the biblical text it is crucial to pay attention not only to the meaning of the text but to its form and structure; not just to what the Torah says, but how it says it. This basic principle allows us to derive much Jewish law from the juxtaposition of seemingly unconnected laws. It is the juxtaposition of the law of tzitzit to the prohibition of sha’atnez (Devarim 22:11 and 12) that teaches that the mitzvah...
Continue Reading »

Ki Teitzei: Hit 'Em Less

September 05, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
What is the role of a Rabbi? When this question was asked to Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, author of the monumental code of law the Aruch Hashulchan, he responded that it is to issue rulings on Jewish law. Such is what one might expect coming from a world class posek, decisor of Jewish law. This would seem to have its roots in last week's parsha, where the Torah describes the role of the Sanhedrin. "If a...
Continue Reading »

Ki Teitzei: Leave G-d Out of It

September 04, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
For the religion that first brought the message of ethical monotheism to the world, Judaism sure does its best to have us lead much of our daily lives as if there were no G-d, strange and heretical as this may sound. Principles such as "we may not rely on miracles" (Pesachim 64b), "in the ways of G-d, why do you concern yourself?" (Brachot 10a), or "It [Torah] is not in heaven" (Devarim 30:12), mandate us to...
Continue Reading »