Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Haazinu: Action Reaction

September 21, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Jewish thought teaches that the physical and spiritual worlds are meant to function harmoniously. Both are essential, and a proper balance must be maintained between them. "If there is no flour there is no Torah, and if there is no Torah there is no flour" (Pirkei Avot 3:17) is not only a statement of fact, but one of theology. Furthermore, Judaism posits that in addition to its physical properties, the universe itself has spiritual...
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VaYelech: The Last Message

September 14, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The time has come for new leadership. “I am no longer able to come and go, and G-d has told me you will not cross the Jordan” (Devarim 31:2). While the people complained plenty about Moshe's leadership, clearly they were very nervous about him leaving the scene. Moshe reassured the people that all will be fine with Yehoshua, and that he, too, will have Divine assistance in his mission. Yehoshua was also nervous. How was he...
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Nitzavim: Near and Dear

September 06, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most vexing issues in Biblical interpretation is the relationship between pshat, loosely translated as the plain meaning of the Biblical text, and derash, the additional levels of interpretation that can be derived from that same text. At times the two appear contradictory; as, for example, the Torah's obligation of "an eye for an eye". The phrase seems to imply just that, but has always been understood...
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Ki Tavo: The Presence of G-d

August 30, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In the secular world in which we live it can be—and often is—hard to feel the presence of G-d. The Western world has turned religion into a private issue by establishing a wall separating church and state. Undoubtedly, this separation of church and state has had great benefits for the Jewish community. The tremendous growth and confidence of American Jewry is in no small measure due to the constitutional barring of the public...
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Ki-Teze: Demanding More

August 22, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When studying Torah we must study not only its content, but also its form; not just what the Torah says, but also how it says it. Proper study requires that we analyze, as best we can, the editorial decisions of the Divine author of the Torah.  Why, for example, are the laws of shmitta divided such that the agricultural aspects are presented in parshat Behar, whereas the fact that outstanding...
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