VaYeshev: Coats and Goats

December 19, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We tend to divide the Bible into narrative and law. The former teaches ethical and moral values while the latter instructs us on how we must conduct our life on a day-to-day basis. Yet it would be a mistake to see these as two separate realms. The stories, many concentrated in Sefer Breisheet, often serve as the background to the law as later promulgated in the Torah. Perhaps the most obvious example is Yaakov's struggle with the angel, which...
Continue Reading »

Breisheet: Sinning and Growing

October 28, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The holidays of Tishrei—with their emphasis on sin, repentance, reconciliation, and joy—are behind us. It is time to get back to our “normal” routine and catch up on the many items on our agenda. From a practical point of view, the New Year is really beginning, and along with it, the weekly Torah cycle. It is most unfortunate that with all the catching up to do—along with the short week (if that) that follows...
Continue Reading »

Lech Lecha: Informed Consent

October 01, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Judaism and modern western thought both teach the supremacy of man's freedom of choice. For modern man, freedom is rooted in the notion of individual rights, guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Charter of Rights. Man has the right to pursue happiness, provided he causes no harm to others. For Jews, the importance of freedom is rooted in morality, not liberty. Only with the ability to choose evil does the choice of good merit...
Continue Reading »

Tetzaveh: Nameless, But Not Forgotten

January 01, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
What's in a name? Clearly, names played an important role to our Biblical ancestors. The names of Chava, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov and his children, and Moshe--to name just a few--reflect the circumstances of their birth, or a vision for their role in the future. We all know that people love hearing their name called, as it makes them feel important. Hence, common courtesy is to address people by their names instead...
Continue Reading »

Shemot: No Names

December 28, 2007 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Shemot, literally, “book of names”, seems to be a misnomer for our Parsha.  (Rabbinic writings often refer to it as “book of redemption".) While the Torah lists the names of the 12 sons of Jacob who came to Egypt with their families, the Jewish people quickly became a nameless and faceless people; something that, in all likelihood, contributed to their eventual slavery. While numerous, there were apparently no outstanding leaders...
Continue Reading »

Pages