Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Beshalach: Who's Up First

January 29, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The problem of theodicy—why there is evil in this world—has bothered thinking people from time immemorial. We cannot answer Moshe’s question to G-d as to why the wicked often prosper and the righteous suffer (Brachot 7a). Hence, Rav Soloveitchik noted that we do not even ask the question of lamah, why? Rather, we ask lemah[1], for what purpose? Not why, but how should we respond? Instead of wondering why...
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Bo: The First Born

January 21, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In the non-egalitarian society of the Bible, it was evident that the bechor, the firstborn—being the one designated to carry on the legacy of his father—had special rights and thus, special responsibilities. Sadly, this situation led to much conflict, as families fought over who was the true heir to the parent’s legacy.  Clearly, the "firstborn" was not necessarily determined by order of birth....
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Vaeira: 137 and Counting

January 14, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One hundred and thirty seven is not a number that would appear to have much significance, at least not from a Jewish perspective. Yet the Torah found it necessary to record that Levi lived to that age (Shemot 6:16). A mere four verses later we are told that Amram, Moshe's father, also lived to the age of 137. As Moshe and Aharon are about to set in motion the redemption of the Jewish people, the Torah “digresses” and records the...
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Shemot: A New Leader

January 08, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In today's world of the 30-second soundbite, good oratory skills are a necessary ingredient for any aspiring politician. Good politicians are often able to talk themselves out of difficult positions spouting half-truths, equivocations, and at times, outright lies. A good politician knows how to talk without saying anything. Yet the greatest political leader of all time, Moshe Rabbeinu was a kvad peh...
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Vayechi: 17 Plus 17

January 01, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Breisheet begins with the grandeur of creation, detailing the many new life forms, and with great hope for the human race. This hope was to be short-lived, with story after story of man's pettiness and propensity for evil. By the end of the book, the theme is that of death, and the stage is set for the enslavement of the Jewish people.   The opening verse of this week's parsha, “Yaakov lived in the...
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