Divrei Torah

Some Thoughts on This Year's Yamim Noraim

September 16, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
The Yamim Noraim of the year 70 must have been quite traumatic. The Temple had been destroyed less than two months earlier and thousands lay dead, with many others exiled. Never in anyone’s lifetime had there been such a disruption to the normal routine of life. Could Judaism survive, and if so, in what form? “The house of prayer for all nations” lay in ruins, and surely there was no way to observe Yom Kippur. How...
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Vayelech: Naming Rights

September 11, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We tend to think that the names of the weekly parshiot have little intrinsic meaning; they are just taken from the opening word or two of the parsha. Thus, breisheet, being the first word of the Bible, becomes the name for both the first book and the weekly parsha. Upon closer examination we begin to realize that it might not be quite that simple. For example, two of the parshiot in sefer...
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Eiruvin 30: Eating Together

September 10, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the hardest hit industries of the pandemic has been the restaurant industry. Many restaurants have permanently closed; surely, many more will close in the coming months, and those that survive may never fully recover.  Socially distanced eating is somewhat of an oxymoron. Eating is as much a social activity as it is something we do to satisfy our biological needs. That is why we like to eat with others, and why our tradition places...
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Ki Tavo: Language Barriers

September 04, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Those of us living in Canada are especially sensitive to the importance of language to the fabric of a country. The language that one speaks is, more often than not, indicative of cultural norms and attitudes. It is thus no surprise that on many an issue, the views of the people of Quebec differ sharply from those residing in the rest of the country. While it may seem strange to us today, the modern-day Zionist movement debated the question...
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Ki-Teze: Let's Make a Deal

August 28, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"All of man's earnings are decreed on Rosh Hashanah, except for expenses regarding Shabbat and Yom Tov and expenses relating to Jewish education" (Beitzah 16a). The more we spend in the latter two areas, the more G-d will graciously grant us. Though the above is hard to prove, it reflects the fundamental notion that while we are required to work for our sustenance, ultimately it is only through the...
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