Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Mishpatim: Free the Slaves

February 20, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the revolutions that Judaism brought to the world was its attitude towards, and its treatment of, slaves. Whereas in the ancient world slaves were considered to be no more than chattel, Judaism taught that slaves are to be accorded the same rights and privileges as their masters.  Parshat Mishpatim, following immediately after the Divine revelation at Sinai, opens with the laws of slavery. On the heels of Sinai,...
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Yitro: The Essence of Torah

February 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Fulfilling G-d's commandments is the essence of Torah. "If not for my covenant, day and night, the laws of heaven and earth, I would not have established" (Yirmiyahu 33:25). Rashi begins his commentary on Chumash asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation. Being a book of mitzvot, one might posit that it should have begun with the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people, namely, the...
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BeShalach: Dying in the Desert

February 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And Pharaoh approached...they saw the Egyptians marching at their rear, and the people became very frightened. The Israelites cried out to G-d....They said to Moshe, ‘It would have been better for us to be slaves in Egypt than to die in the desert’” (Shemot 14:10-12).   Days earlier, the Jewish people had triumphantly left Egypt, walking right past the Egyptians in broad daylight (Shemot 12:41)....
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Bo: Timing is Everything

January 31, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Judaism places great emphasis on the proper use of time. For serious students there is practically no greater sin than that of bitul Torah—the wasting of precious time that could be devoted to Torah study and action. Successful people have effective time management techniques balancing the need to study, earn a living and spend time with their families. It should therefore come as no surprise that the first mitzva ...
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Vaera: It Took A While

January 24, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Moshe was frustrated. Having been coerced by G-d to redeem the Jewish people, things were not going as planned. As Moshe confronted Pharaoh, demanding—as G-d had instructed—that he let them go free, Pharaoh worsened the conditions for the Jewish people. Moshe could not take it and cried out, “O Lord, why do You mistreat Your people? Why did You send me? As soon as I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he made things worse...
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