Acharei Mot-Kedoshim: On Our Way

“Do not follow the ways of Egypt, where you once lived” (Vayikra 18:2). The Jewish people's formative years were those we spent in the land of Egypt, something for which we are to be eternally grateful. “Do not despise the Egyptian, since you were an immigrant in his land” (Devarim 23:8). Unlike the nations of Amon and Moav, whose [male] progeny are forever barred from joining the Jewish faith, the “children of...
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Shabbat 31: Farming and Faith

April 30, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The Torah is full of mitzvot relating to farmers. Whether one is plowing, planting, or harvesting, the Torah has clear guidelines to direct us. One must separate wheat and the vine, avoid plowing with two different animals, leave the corner of the field for the poor, take our first fruits to Jerusalem, and give some of our produce to the kohen, levi and the poor. We must not pick up that which we might drop, nor...
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Yom Haatzmaut: Thoughts at Seventy-two

April 29, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
“Shimon ben Azzai said: I have received a tradition from the seventy-two elders on the day when they appointed Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah head of the academy, that all sacrifices which are eaten, though slaughtered shelo lishma, without proper intent, are valid except that their owners have not fulfilled their obligation, except the Paschal lamb and the chatat, the sin offering” (Mishna Zevachim 1:3...
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Tazria: Birth and Death

There is no greater joy than having a child. From a religious perspective, bringing new life into this world is the most tangible way of demonstrating that we were created in G-d’s image. The initial biblical portrayal of G-d is that of a Creator. And the first mitzvah given to man is to be fruitful and multiply and to conquer the earth, mandating us to imitate and partner with G-d in the continuing process of creation. The Torah describes...
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Shabbat 31: Awe and Fear

April 22, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your G-d demand of you but l’yirah, to revere the Lord your G-d, to walk only in His paths, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul” (Devarim 10:12).  There is little, our tradition teaches, that is more important than yirat Hashem, awe[1] of the Creator. Imbued with it, we are only too happy to “submit our will to...
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