Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Lech Lecha: Informed Consent

October 01, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Judaism and modern western thought both teach the supremacy of man's freedom of choice. For modern man, freedom is rooted in the notion of individual rights, guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Charter of Rights. Man has the right to pursue happiness, provided he causes no harm to others. For Jews, the importance of freedom is rooted in morality, not liberty. Only with the ability to choose evil does the choice of good merit...
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Tetzaveh: Nameless, But Not Forgotten

January 01, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
What's in a name? Clearly, names played an important role to our Biblical ancestors. The names of Chava, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov and his children, and Moshe--to name just a few--reflect the circumstances of their birth, or a vision for their role in the future. We all know that people love hearing their name called, as it makes them feel important. Hence, common courtesy is to address people by their names instead...
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Shemot: No Names

December 28, 2007 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Shemot, literally, “book of names”, seems to be a misnomer for our Parsha.  (Rabbinic writings often refer to it as “book of redemption".) While the Torah lists the names of the 12 sons of Jacob who came to Egypt with their families, the Jewish people quickly became a nameless and faceless people; something that, in all likelihood, contributed to their eventual slavery. While numerous, there were apparently no outstanding leaders...
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VaYigash: Simple Faith

December 14, 2007 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
After twenty-two difficult years, Yaakov was informed that his beloved son Yosef was the Viceroy of Egypt. Overcome with joy and disbelief, Yaakov hurried to travel to Egypt to be reunited with his long-lost son. Surely Yaakov could not have been happier. Yet as Yaakov approached the Egyptian border, G-d appeared to Yaakov, telling him "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt” (Breisheet 46:3). Outwardly, Yaakov likely radiated joy, but...
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VaYetze: Ignoring G-d's Promise

November 16, 2007 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Yaakov Avinu was on the run. Forced to leave home after "stealing" the birthright from his brother, he was attempting to stay one step ahead of Eisav, who was busy planning for the day when he would "be able to kill my brother Jacob" (27:41). Understandably, Yaakov was fearful. It was at this point, our Sages teach us, that he instituted Maariv, the nightly prayer service, night being the symbol of fear and uncertainty.Tired from being...
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