Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Vayelech: Poetic Licence

October 03, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Now, write for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites, so that this song will be a witness for the Israelites" (Devarim 31:19). The simple meaning of this verse is a command to write shirat Ha'azinu, the Song of Ha'azinu, which bears witness to the tragedies that await the Jewish people if they do not follow the Torah. Nonetheless, our Sages (Sanhedrin 21b) derived...
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Nitzavim: Pass the Water

September 27, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"You are standing this day all of you before the Lord your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel: your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in the midst of the camp, from the hewer of wood unto the drawer of water” (Devarim 29:9-10). As Moshe’s life nears an end and the Jewish people are poised to enter the Land of Israel, Moshe, as he has been doing...
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Ki-Tavo: Speak Up

September 20, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the key aspects of our being created in the Divine image is the gift of speech. As the world was created with ten Divine utterances (Avot 5:1), our tzelem elokim, divine image, allows us to create, or G-d forbid, destroy, many little “human” worlds through our speech. Yet strangely—perhaps brilliantly is a more apt description—there is very little a Jew must actually say.  Mitzvoth, the core of...
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Ki-Teze: On The Way

September 13, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Until modern times, travel was viewed as something best avoided. It was slow, uncomfortable, and often quite dangerous. Our rabbis even instituted a special prayer (Brachot 29b-30a) to be said when one has to travel.  Spiritually, travel represented rootlessness, detachment from our natural environment. The person guilty of manslaughter had to flee to a city of refuge; and if he accidentally killed someone while he was already in such a...
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Shoftim: Nothing to Fear

September 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The basic duty of every government is to provide security and protect its citizens from both internal criminal activity and external enemies. Parshat Shoftim, which contains the mitzvah to appoint a king, thus also contains the mitzvot of appointing a police force and the laws relating to a Jewish army. Our inability to have a Jewish army for close to two thousand years served to highlight our national degradation. During the battles...
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