Mikketz: Boom and Bust

December 26, 2008 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the central motifs of the biblical narrative is food. Matzah, manna, mei merivah highlight the crucial role of food in shaping the course of Jewish history. The entire course of human destiny was changed due to Adam and Eve’s eating from the eitz hada'at.To a great extent our holiest days of the year, Shabbat and Yom Tov, centre on food. Even Yom Kippur is preceded by a Biblical mitzvah to eat. Our tradition...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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