Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Breisheet: Purposeful Ambiguity

October 05, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"G-d said: What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is screaming to Me from the ground" (Breisheet 4:10). G-d approached Cain after the murder of Hevel with a question, hoping that Cain would do teshuva for the murder of his brother. Did he? The text is unclear: "And Cain said to G-d: gadol avoni mi'n'so, [Is?]my sin is too great to bear" (Breisheet 4:13). Whether this is a...
Continue Reading »

V'zot Habracha: A Man of G-d

September 30, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Even though Parshat Vezot Ha'beracha is read over and over again during Simchat Torah it is probably one of the least understood and studied parshiot of the Chumash. With all the hustle and bustle of the Yamim Tovim in general, and with the atmosphere of Simchat Torah in particular, serious study of the parsha tends to be neglected. Compounding the problem is the generally obscure nature of the parsha, with its difficult...
Continue Reading »

Haazinu: Action Reaction

September 21, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Jewish thought teaches that the physical and spiritual worlds are meant to function harmoniously. Both are essential, and a proper balance must be maintained between them. "If there is no flour there is no Torah, and if there is no Torah there is no flour" (Pirkei Avot 3:17) is not only a statement of fact, but one of theology. Furthermore, Judaism posits that in addition to its physical properties, the universe itself has spiritual...
Continue Reading »

VaYelech: The Last Message

September 14, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The time has come for new leadership. “I am no longer able to come and go, and G-d has told me you will not cross the Jordan” (Devarim 31:2). While the people complained plenty about Moshe's leadership, clearly they were very nervous about him leaving the scene. Moshe reassured the people that all will be fine with Yehoshua, and that he, too, will have Divine assistance in his mission. Yehoshua was also nervous. How was he...
Continue Reading »

Nitzavim: Near and Dear

September 06, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most vexing issues in Biblical interpretation is the relationship between pshat, loosely translated as the plain meaning of the Biblical text, and derash, the additional levels of interpretation that can be derived from that same text. At times the two appear contradictory; as, for example, the Torah's obligation of "an eye for an eye". The phrase seems to imply just that, but has always been understood...
Continue Reading »

Pages