Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Tetzaveh: Clothes Make the Man

February 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The billions of dollars spent by the fashion industry, not to mention the celebrity status of fashion gurus, testify to the importance attached to proper dress by modern society. It may come as a surprise that Judaism also stresses the importance of clothing, well beyond aspects of modesty. The Rambam (Hilchot Deot 5:9) stresses the importance of wearing clean, even fashionable clothing, and warns against wearing dirty or unkempt clothing...
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Terumah: It's all in the Details

February 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Symbols play a crucial role in self and group identification and affect almost everything we do. Be they roses or a diamond ring, symbols can speak louder than actions (not to mention words). Failure to understand the symbolic meaning behind many a gesture can lead to embarrassment and friction.  While symbols plays a major role in our personal lives they have an even greater role in the life of a nation. This is why burning a country...
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Mishpatim: Divine Justice, Human Mercy

February 01, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot” (Shemot 21:24). Perhaps no Biblical verse has generated as much controversy regarding its true meaning. As is well known, traditional Jewish exegesis has always maintained that this verse requires monetary compensation for bodily injuries caused and monetary compensation only. Critics throughout the ages have argued that the true meaning of the text is...
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Yitro: Yes and No

January 24, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe lei'mor is the most commonly occurring verse of the Bible. While it is usually translated as, “G-d spoke to Moshe, saying”, our rabbis saw additional meaning in the word lei'mor. If it only meant “saying”, then it would be superfluous; if the Torah tells us that G-d spoke to Moshe, then surely something was said. Rather, our Sages...
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Beshalach: Great Expectations

January 18, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Throughout the Exodus story, the Jewish people are silent. We do not know what they were thinking or doing during the plagues. We hear them rejoicing when Moshe first arrives with the message of redemption (Shemot 4:31), and complaining when his initial meeting with Pharaoh ends with an even more onerous slavery. But that is all we hear of them until just before the 10th plague when, to be worthy of redemption, the people were...
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