Divrei Torah

Mishpatim: Sequel to Sinai

February 12, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is common after a major event to have difficulty getting back into our daily routine. Whether it is a child's wedding, an exotic vacation or a summer at camp, rarely do we feel ready to return to our daily schedule—something we all yearn for at this time. Surely the excitement of the events surrounding the receiving of the Torah at Sinai would qualify as a major event—and then some. The thunder, lightning, and masses...
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Yitro: A Perfect Ten

February 04, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In the Western world, the number ten represents perfection. Not surprisingly, this concept seems to be rooted in our biblical tradition. “In ten utterances, the world was created (Avot 5:1)." And what a world it was! “And G-d saw all that He did, and it was very good”. Yet instead of “working and guarding” this world as we were commanded (Breisheet 2:15), ten generations later “[There are] ten...
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Beshalach: Who's Up First

January 29, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The problem of theodicy—why there is evil in this world—has bothered thinking people from time immemorial. We cannot answer Moshe’s question to G-d as to why the wicked often prosper and the righteous suffer (Brachot 7a). Hence, Rav Soloveitchik noted that we do not even ask the question of lamah, why? Rather, we ask lemah[1], for what purpose? Not why, but how should we respond? Instead of wondering why...
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Pesachim 50: Time to Work

January 29, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
There is a fascinating debate amongst the medieval greats as to whether one is obligated to act lifnim meshurat hadin, over and above what the law demands. On the one hand, it defies logic to claim that there could be a law requiring one to do more than the law requires. If the law requires one to act beyond the law, then doing such is the law, and not beyond the letter of the law. Lifnim meshurat hadin may be the...
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Pesachim 50: That's My Minhag

January 25, 2021 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In one of his teshuva derashot, Rav Soloveitchik lamented the fact that, while there are many shomer Shabbat Jews in America, there are very few “shomer erev Shabbat Jews”. Many, especially (but not only) in the winter months, make it home from work, or elsewhere, with little time to spare and rush to switch from a weekday mindset to a Shabbat one. All who have spent Shabbat in Israel know what it...
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