Divrei Torah

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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Chanukah: Back to the Future

December 14, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Mai Chanukah? What is Chanukah? the Talmud (Shabbat 21ba) queries, a question we find with respect to no other holiday. The Talmud explains that Chanukah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days, allowing the needed time to prepare fresh pure oil. However, in reciting al hanissim during davening and birchat hamazon, the focus is very different. Here the miracle of Chanukah is...
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Pesachim 8: Bathing In Jerusalem

December 10, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The problem of theodicy—why a benevolent G-d allows so much evil to exist in this world—has troubled thinkers from time immemorial.  The Talmud (Brachot 7a) relates that when Moshe asked G-d to “Make Your way known to me" (Shemot 33:13), he was asking G-d why, all too often, the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. Compounding the problem is that the suffering of the righteous actually calls into question the...
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