Divrei Torah

Asara b'Tevet and Christmas

December 25, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
For better or worse, in the minds of many—Jew and non-Jew alike—Chanukah and Christmas are two sides of a similar, if not the same, coin. Chanukah is often identified as the mechanism by which Jews celebrate the holiday season, and Christmas as the way in which gentile society celebrates. With so many peoples of other cultures, faiths, and no faith living in the West, the focus at this time of year is often less of a religious nature...
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Pesachim 21: Welcome Stranger

December 23, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
There is no more oft-repeated command in the Torah than the charge to be kind and sensitive to the ger—ki because[1],  gerim hayeetem, you were strangers in the land of Egypt". Thirty-six times, possibly even forty-six times (Bava Metzia 59b) the Torah exhorts us to treat the ger properly. Clearly, this is a most difficult mitzvah, on both a personal and national level. If it were easy to...
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Mikketz: Family First

December 18, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Judaism has long maintained that a strong family life is the most important ingredient in creating and sustaining a person of character and integrity. The Torah spends an entire book detailing the family life of our founders; there is much to strive to emulate and what to strive to avoid. Their struggles demonstrate that despite life’s challenges we can attain greatness. If we are fortunate, the lessons learned from our upbringing are so...
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Chanukah: Clothes Make the Man

December 18, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
There is no more powerful symbol than light in our tradition. It is how we usher in the Shabbat, march down the wedding aisle, mark the yahrzeit of a loved one. Light is the symbol of spirituality which, unlike matters physical, is not diminished when shared. Our spiritual legacy endures long after our physical demise. Our Torah is “Torah Ohr”, the Light of Torah, uniting generations past with those not yet born....
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Pesachim 13: Time for a Joke

December 15, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In describing our Talmudic Sages, one would not put a sense of humour at the top of the list—maybe not even at the bottom. Yet that would be unfair. The Gemara (Shabbat 30b) notes that Rabba would open every shiur with a joke, bringing a smile to the face of his colleagues. Like Jews throughout the generations, our Talmudic rabbis were not averse to telling jokes, though their style was somewhat different than ours. Their jokes...
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