Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Vayakhel: Building the Shabbat

March 01, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The laws of Shabbat…are like a mountain being held up by a thread” (Chagigah 10a). Shabbat is the pivot around which Jewish life revolves. Its laws are vast and detailed, and are applicable week in and week out. Yet beyond the mitzvah to “remember” and “guard” the Shabbat, we are told next to nothing about how to observe it. One little verse—“Do not light a fire in all your dwelling places...
Continue Reading »

Ki Tissa: With the People

February 22, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“G-d declared to Moshe, Go down [from the mountain] for the people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt” (Shemot 32:7). What is the role of a leader? What are his responsibilities? Can he, should he be held responsible for the actions of his followers even if he is not to blame? The Torah’s answer is unequivocal. A leader is judged by the actions of his flock. When his followers fail, the leader must find a...
Continue Reading »

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...
Continue Reading »

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...
Continue Reading »

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...
Continue Reading »