Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Pekudei: Time and Space

March 20, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And it was on first month of the second year on the first of the month that the Tabernacle was erected” (Shemot 40:17). The first of Nissan is a most special time in Jewish history. It was on this date that Moshe and Aharon began preparing the people for their exodus from Egypt. It is thereby "the head of the months", marking the beginning of national Jewish history. While the actual exodus did not take place until the...
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Ki-Tissa: The Golden Garden

March 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And the people saw ki boshesh Moshe, that Moshe delayed in coming down from the mountain" (Shemot 32:1). As a young nation coming from a hedonistic society that had many gods, the transition to a monotheistic people living a disciplined life was not (and is not) an easy one. They needed lots of 'hand-holding' as they matured as a people, and were paralyzed with their leader away. The people wanted a...
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Tezaveh: Consistently Excited

March 05, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For many, when the Torah reading reaches the parshiot of Terumah and Tezaveh interest in the parsha wanes just a bit (or maybe more). It is hard to compare the technical details of these parshiot with the excitement of, say, the Yosef story. Add to that the inapplicability of these parshiot for the past 2,000 years and we can understand the diminished attention paid to them. And yet buried...
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Terumah: Child's Play

February 28, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Judaism sees the sparks of the Divine within the most mundane of activities. Revelation at Sinai is followed by a series of laws dealing with such topics as slavery, property damage, assault and battery, lost objects, and court procedures. While all societies have civil codes, Judaism sees these laws as rooted in the Divine system of justice. Their observance embodies the essence of Judaism no less—in fact, more—than the “...
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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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