Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Bo: My Dear Enemy!

January 11, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the great difficulties we often have is making a clear distinction between people and the ideas that they espouse. While one might reject an idea, we may not reject the person who espouses it. This is true even of ideas that we find offensive or heretical.  Judaism goes one step further and demands that we even separate the actions of an individual from our feelings towards that person. In a famous Talmudic passage (Brachot 10a),...
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VaEra: The Sons of Korach

January 04, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The initial meeting between Moshe and Pharaoh did not go well. The workload placed on the poor Jewish slaves was increased, and more importantly, the people's morale was shattered. Whereas initially, "the people believed, and they heard that G-d had remembered the people of Israel" (Shemot 4:31), as conditions worsened, "they did not listen to Moshe from shortness of breath and hard work" (Shemot 6:9). Moshe is...
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Shemot: No Thank You

December 28, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And Moshe was frightened and he said, behold the incident is known. And Pharaoh heard about the affair and he sought to kill Moshe” (Shemot 2:14-15). How did Moshe's killing of an Egyptian become public knowledge? Did not Moshe “look this way and that way” and see “that there was no man” (Shemot 2:12)? While it is possible that Moshe simply failed to notice some passing Egyptian, such an...
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Vayechi: The Inconsistent Truth

December 21, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And they said, should they make our sister like a harlot?" (Breisheet 34:31). So ends round one of the debate between Yaakov on one side, and Shimon and Levi on the other, over the killing of the people of Shechem for the rape of Dinah. The Torah moves on to record Yaakov's return to Beit El as the family enters a new phase in their travels. It is on Yaakov's deathbed that we hear his response: "Shimon and Levi, the...
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VaYigash: Looking Ahead

December 14, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Since the time of Joseph, infighting has been the Achilles heel of the Jewish people, causing untold pain, suffering and national calamity. So much of our collective energies are wasted on disagreements with others; many of them are so trivial when viewed from the perspective of history. The schisms of the 19th century, caused to a large extent by such topics as sermons in the vernacular or the placement of the bimah in a shul, are...
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