Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Pinchas: Not Fit for Leadership

July 06, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest was the one who so zealously took up My cause among the Israelites, and turned My anger away from them” (Bamidbar 25:10). Whereas normally, the Torah identifies a person with their father’s name, in this instance, the Torah emphasizes the fact that Pinchas was the grandson not just of Aaron, but of Aaron the priest. Pinchas may have been the biological grandson of...
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Balak: Reality Test

June 29, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In a world in which image and marketing play such a crucial role, perception is often more important than reality. In fact, perception often creates reality—beginning with our perception of what is happening around us. “And Balak, the son of Tzippor, saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites”. Balak became nervous and joined forces with his traditional archenemy, Midian (see Rashi 22:4), in order to try to stop...
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Chukat: Time to Talk

June 22, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Parshat Chukat marks the transition from the generation that left Egypt to the one that would enter the Land of Israel. This was a transition marked by death and thus, the Torah’s description of the laws of purity and impurity stemming from contact with death form the opening unit of the parsha. The leaders of the nation—Miriam, Aharon and Moshe—would not be spared the fate of the people and would also have to die in the desert...
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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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