Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Korach: Holy and More Holy

June 15, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
The Torah was "edited" with great precision. Narrative and law are often intertwined; one sheds light on the other. While our tradition teaches that the entire corpus of Biblical Law was given at Sinai, many, if not most, of the laws are recorded in multiple places in the Torah, each instance of repetition adding nuances and shadings of meaning. The principle of ein mukdam umeuchar baTorah, events in the Torah...
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Shelach Lecha: An Old Name

June 08, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
Of the twelve men sent to bring back a report about the land of Israel, only one of them—Yehoshua—has previously been mentioned in the Torah. During the war against Amalek, Yehoshua served as the commanding officer leading them into battle. This military experience would serve him well for his mission forty years later when he would lead the Jewish people in their conquest of the land of Israel.  We also meet Yehoshua when he...
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Beha'alotcha: Out of Order

June 01, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
“And G-d spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert in the second year of the Exodus from Egypt, in the first month” (Bamidbar 9:1). Pesach Sheni presents a second chance, the opportunity for those who were unable to bring the pesach sacrifice at the right time to do so. Pesach Sheni’s stories and laws, to which the above verse refers, are the chronological opening to the book of Bamidbar. Yet this verse appears only in...
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Nasso: More is Less

May 25, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
The Torah uses its words sparingly—and sometimes not at all. The Torah tells us very little about the laws of Shabbat[1]. They are, in the poetic words of the Mishna (Chagigah 10a), “like mountains reliant on a thread of hair” or, in the case of annulling vows, “floating in the air with nothing to lean on”. It is only through the Oral Law that we can begin to understand how to observe these laws. Yet strangely...
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Shavuot: Eating Out

May 18, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman
How should one celebrate the receiving of the Torah? The Talmud (Pesachim 68b) quotes a seemingly strange argument as to how to properly celebrate Yom Tov in general, and Shavuot in particular. "Rav Eliezer says, a person on Yom Tov either eats and drinks or sits and learns". One may choose how to celebrate, but that choice must be performed with full dedication. Apparently, he felt that trying to celebrate Yom Tov in two different...
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