Haazinu: The Lessons of History

October 11, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Despite our long and frequently miraculous past, the actual study of Jewish history is an oft-neglected field. It is perceived by many, to a large degree correctly, to be less important than “pure” Torah subjects such as Chumash (which itself is often neglected), Talmud or Jewish law.  Yet the neglect of the study of Jewish history runs deeper. By its very nature, history is a subject which often lends itself to much bias; this...
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The Day After

October 10, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
“It was on the next day…” (Shemot 18:13). Apparently, something of significance had happened on the previous day, yet the Torah makes no mention of it. The day, that special day that needs no mention, can be none other than Yom Kippur (Rashi). And what was it that happened on the day after that first Yom Kippur? “Moshe sat to judge the people, and the people stood by Moshe from the morning until the evening”. Inspired by their repaired and...
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Yom Kippur: A Great Day!

October 07, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Our society worships greatness. Whether it be athletes, rock stars, actors or successful business leaders, they are showered with wealth and adulation and pampered wherever they go. People pay great sums of money to be in the presence of, or acquire an object once used by, the perceived greats of our society.  Attaching oneself to greatness is indeed a most noble and worthy endeavour. It is why Biblical exegesis has interpreted the verse...
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Aseret Yemi Teshuva: I Confess

October 06, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Integral to the teshuva process is the act of vidui, confession. One can intellectually know one has done something wrong; one can even feel terrible about it. But unless and until one verbalizes that one has sinned—and for sins against our fellow man, vidui should be done publicly (Hilchot Teshuva, 2:5)—teshuva cannot be complete. It is precisely because it is so hard to admit a wrong,...
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Vayelech: Poetic Licence

October 03, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Now, write for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites, so that this song will be a witness for the Israelites" (Devarim 31:19). The simple meaning of this verse is a command to write shirat Ha'azinu, the Song of Ha'azinu, which bears witness to the tragedies that await the Jewish people if they do not follow the Torah. Nonetheless, our Sages (Sanhedrin 21b) derived...
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