Bo: Changing Times

January 19, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the central tenets of our faith is the eternal relevance and unchanging nature of our Torah. The Torah is not only Divinely authored, it is an autobiography of G-d, with each mitzva reflecting a different aspect of the Divine. By observing the mitzvoth, we emulate G-d, actualizing our Divine image. Because each and every aspect of the Torah is an expression of the Divine, our Sages (Avot 2:1) admonish us to be as careful with a “...
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An Introduction to Masechet Avodah Zara

January 18, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
It would be hard to argue with the notion that the primary goal for the Torah is for all to know that there is one G-d who is Master of the Universe. This theme appears throughout the Torah, in law and narrative. It is with this idea that the Torah opens; it is the purpose behind the plagues in Egypt; it is why we keep Shabbat; it is the opening words of G-d’s revelation at Sinai; and it is the overarching theme of Sefer Devarim....
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Shevuot 45: Where is My Pay?

January 15, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“All who take an oath, take an oath and are exempt [from payment]” (Shevuot 45a). Violating an oath ranks amongst the most serious of transgressions. Despite—or perhaps because—an oath involves no physical act of wrongdoing, swearing falsely is categorized along with the sins that carry the punishment of karet, excision, and the death penalty (Rambam, Hilchot Teshuva 1:2). Its seriousness is such that we are required to swear in G-d’s...
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Vaera: Top Down Morality

January 12, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Whether it is in the sphere of politics, religious life or in the sphere of general morality, one often hears people bemoaning the dearth of leadership that seems to surround us. We yearn for men and women of vision, tenacity, determination and most importantly moral vision to lead us - instead of those who may just be following the latest opinion poll. Sadly, our generation has not always been able to attract the most capable people into...
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Shevuot 30: You Go First

January 09, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In a recent highly publicized murder trial in Toronto, the jury was not told that the accused – who acted as his own lawyer - had recently been convicted of murder in a prior case (and has another murder trial pending). This is a common practice in the legal systems of the West, where it is felt that such knowledge will bias the judgment of the jury, depriving the accused of a fair trial.  By being exposed to past misdeeds of the one...
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