Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Bechukotai: Casual Relationships

May 31, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Twice a year, before Shavuot and Rosh Hashana, we read the tochecha, the list of dire consequences that will, G-d forbid, befall the Jewish people if they do not follow the chukim and mitzvot of the Torah. Panic, economic ruin, cannibalism, death, destruction and exile are spelled out in vivid detail. While we are told that we must, in general, follow the chukim and mitzvot, surprisingly, the...
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Behar: Working for G-d

May 24, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah was wary of the employer-employee relationship. Almost by definition, an employee is not much different than a slave; both are told what to do, when to do it and how it is to be done. “For [all of] you are slaves unto Me” (Vayikra 25:55). As our Sages teach, we are not meant to be slaves of slaves. It can be quite natural for an employer to treat his employee like a slave, even if the employee is treated with dignity. To...
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Emor: The Setting Sun

May 16, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The major theme of sefer Vayikra is, arguably, that of tumah and taharah, purity and impurity. When one reads the Torah, one senses what seems almost an obsession with this topic. If one happens to violate the special sanctity of the Temple, or of sacrifices, or even of the camp of Israel, the penalties are severe and harsh. While tumah and taharah appear in many contexts throughout the Torah, the...
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Kedoshim: No Mercy Here

May 10, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Commenting on the Torah's charge "to be holy, since I the Lord your G-d am holy" (Vayikra, 19:2) the Ramban explains that it is not enough to keep the laws of the Torah. One can do so meticulously and still be a "scoundrel with the permission of the Torah". Torah law gives us a framework for life, but one who so desires can technically stay within that framework while nonetheless violating the basic goals of the...
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Acharei-Mot, Or Is It Kedoshim?

May 03, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For those who write divrei Torah, the next few months will be a bit challenging and will demonstrate our geographical frame of reference. That is because for the next three months, until parshiot Mattot and Massei are read in the Diaspora on the 9th of Av, 5779—or, if you prefer, August 10, 2019—we Jews who live outside of Israel will be one parsha behind our Israeli...
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