Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

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...
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Ki Tavo: The Presence of G-d

August 30, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
In the secular world in which we live it can be—and often is—hard to feel the presence of G-d. The Western world has turned religion into a private issue by establishing a wall separating church and state. Undoubtedly, this separation of church and state has had great benefits for the Jewish community. The tremendous growth and confidence of American Jewry is in no small measure due to the constitutional barring of the public...
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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...
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Shoftim: Enabling Evil

August 17, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Evil does not exist in a vacuum. A culture is needed for evil to be nurtured, in which it can grow and develop. And when that happens, aveirah gorreret aveirah; one misdeed leads to another, greater sin. Perpetrators of corporate wrongdoing do not begin by defrauding shareholders of billions of dollars. Rather, they might begin with a little plagiarism in college, and some padding of a resume. They may then move on to...
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Re'eh: Springtime

August 10, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“Guard the month of the spring, and make Pesach to the Lord your G-d, because it was in the month of the spring that the Lord your G-d took you out of Egypt at night” (Devarim 16:1). Our rabbis derived from the above verse that we must fix our calendar so that Pesach always falls in the spring. Our holidays celebrate both momentous events in Jewish history and the blessing of agriculture, acknowledging that the G-d of Creation and...
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