Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

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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Yitro: The Essence of Torah

February 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Fulfilling G-d's commandments is the essence of Torah. "If not for my covenant, day and night, the laws of heaven and earth, I would not have established" (Yirmiyahu 33:25). Rashi begins his commentary on Chumash asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation. Being a book of mitzvot, one might posit that it should have begun with the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people, namely, the...
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BeShalach: Dying in the Desert

February 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“And Pharaoh approached...they saw the Egyptians marching at their rear, and the people became very frightened. The Israelites cried out to G-d....They said to Moshe, ‘It would have been better for us to be slaves in Egypt than to die in the desert’” (Shemot 14:10-12).   Days earlier, the Jewish people had triumphantly left Egypt, walking right past the Egyptians in broad daylight (Shemot 12:41)....
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