Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Mattot: Split in Half

August 01, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The centrality of the land of Israel is a basic tenet of Jewish thought. Our Sages note that mitzvot performed outside the land of Israel are little more than practice (see Rashi, Devarim 11:18)—not unlike spring training, which is necessary to get in shape for the regular season, but has no independent meaning.  In asserting this rather radical claim, our Sages refer not to those mitzvot which are dependent on the...
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Pinchas: Who is Next?

July 26, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Success and great leadership go hand in hand. That is why organizations, sports teams and even countries can continue to excel or flounder year after year. The players may come and go, but the culture of excellence exuded by the management permeates the team. Tragically, many who have the potential for great leadership lack the skills (or sadly, might we say, the ruthlessness) needed to actually reach the top, whereas those who are excellent at...
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Balak: Fearless Leadership

July 19, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Bilaam, the heathen prophet, recognized that the strength of the Jewish people was in their high level of modesty. “How goodly are your tents, Yaakov!” he exclaimed, noting the respect for privacy that pervaded the Jewish encampment in the desert. Yet so soon after his beautiful words, the Jewish people tried to prove him wrong. “Israel was staying in Shittim when the people began to behave immorally with Moabite women” (...
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Chukat: Marching On

July 12, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Judaism is a religion that celebrates life. "Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than the entire life of the world to come" (Pirkei Avot 5:22). It is only while we are alive that we can elevate ourselves through the performance of mitzvot, that we can contribute to the betterment of the world, and that we can become partners with G-d in the process of creation. There is no nobility in death.  Death...
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Korach: No Unity Without Diversity

July 05, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is in times of crisis that effective leadership is most important—and the years spent wandering in the desert represented the first major crisis of the Jewish people. Aimlessly wandering with little to look forward to, knowing that they would die in the desert, the hope and excitement of the Exodus was long gone. It is not surprising that, when faced with a crisis, instead of looking inward, people often look to blame others for their...
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