Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Vayikra-Zachor: Remembering Sacrifices

March 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fiercest debates amongst Biblical commentators of the medieval period was to what extent, if at all, parts of the Torah may be seen as allegorical. No less a personage than the Rambam claimed that stories such as the three angels visiting Avraham, or Yaakov’s struggle with an angel, were prophetic visions that did not actually occur. As one can imagine, views such as these—and more radical ones, which allegorized such ...
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Pekudei: Remember the Count

March 09, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"These are the accounts, pekudei, of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of testimony, as they were pukad, rendered, according the commandment of Moshe, through the service of the Levites, by the hand of Itamar the son of Aharon the high priest" (Shemot 35:1). The word pekudei, from the root pkd, seems a rather odd choice. Words such as meispar,...
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Vayakhel: Building the Shabbat

March 01, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The laws of Shabbat…are like a mountain being held up by a thread” (Chagigah 10a). Shabbat is the pivot around which Jewish life revolves. Its laws are vast and detailed, and are applicable week in and week out. Yet beyond the mitzvah to “remember” and “guard” the Shabbat, we are told next to nothing about how to observe it. One little verse—“Do not light a fire in all your dwelling places...
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Ki Tissa: With the People

February 22, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“G-d declared to Moshe, Go down [from the mountain] for the people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt” (Shemot 32:7). What is the role of a leader? What are his responsibilities? Can he, should he be held responsible for the actions of his followers even if he is not to blame? The Torah’s answer is unequivocal. A leader is judged by the actions of his flock. When his followers fail, the leader must find a...
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Tetzaveh: Clothes Make the Man

February 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The billions of dollars spent by the fashion industry, not to mention the celebrity status of fashion gurus, testify to the importance attached to proper dress by modern society. It may come as a surprise that Judaism also stresses the importance of clothing, well beyond aspects of modesty. The Rambam (Hilchot Deot 5:9) stresses the importance of wearing clean, even fashionable clothing, and warns against wearing dirty or unkempt clothing...
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