Shabbat Chol Hamoed: Worshipping Idols

It is hard to imagine a more impactful ritual than that of our weekly Torah reading. While its origins date to Moshe Rabbeinu—acting in his capacity as a rabbinic sage, not as prophet delivering G-d's message—and Ezra the scribe, it was not until the Middle Ages that our annual Torah reading cycle was firmly established. It is through the prism of the weekly Torah reading that Jewish life operates. I shudder to think what would happen to our...
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Metzora: Talk It Up

Our Rabbis saw a link between the spiritual sin of lashon hara, slander and gossip, and the physical disease of tzara'at. At the dawn of redemption from Egypt , Moshe was afflicted with this disease for speaking negatively about the Jewish people: "But they will not believe me" (Shemot 4:1), he mistakenly claimed. Nation-building cannot take place when unsubstantiated, not to mention false...
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Election Issues

March 29, 2011 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Money Matters
Technological advances are rapidly changing the nature of almost all that we do. Many of the careers our children will pursue have yet to be invented.  The end results of the political rumblings of the Arab world are impossible to discern, adding additional layers of uncertainty to the world of tomorrow.Our Sages well understood the folly of predicting the future by asserting that the only “prophets” of today are children and fools. ...
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Prison Insights

February 28, 2011 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Money Matters
In an almost unbelievable application of the verse, “Love your neighbour as yourself”, our Sages teach that one must give a convicted killer a “pleasant death”. Even those who commit capital crimes are to be dealt with humanely.Thus, Judaism has no concept of death row; and in the rare circumstances when a death penalty is to be administered, it had to be done on the morrow of conviction. Such an attitude may help explain why—strange as it...
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VaYakhel: Seven Days a Week

February 26, 2011 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The primacy of Shabbat as the foundation stone of Judaism is self-evident. Shabbat is the culmination of the creation process; two distinct reasons for its observance—creation and the Exodus—are enumerated in the aseret hadibrot; Jewish law prescribes, in theory, the death penalty for its desecration, a punishment we do not have even for the desecration of Yom Kippur. The command to observe Shabbat appears in numerous places...
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