Breisheet: Purposeful Ambiguity

October 05, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"G-d said: What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is screaming to Me from the ground" (Breisheet 4:10). G-d approached Cain after the murder of Hevel with a question, hoping that Cain would do teshuva for the murder of his brother. Did he? The text is unclear: "And Cain said to G-d: gadol avoni mi'n'so, [Is?]my sin is too great to bear" (Breisheet 4:13). Whether this is a...
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V'zot Habracha: A Man of G-d

September 30, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Even though Parshat Vezot Ha'beracha is read over and over again during Simchat Torah it is probably one of the least understood and studied parshiot of the Chumash. With all the hustle and bustle of the Yamim Tovim in general, and with the atmosphere of Simchat Torah in particular, serious study of the parsha tends to be neglected. Compounding the problem is the generally obscure nature of the parsha, with its difficult...
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Menachot 28: The Temple Lulav

September 28, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
The opening Mishna of masechet menachot teaches that just because one lacks proper intent when slaughtering an animal, the korban remains valid (though the person offering the korban has not fulfilled their obligation and would have to bring another korban). In other words, the slaughtering does not impact on the other aspects of the korban (see here for further discussion). However, there are many mitzvoth where each part forms such...
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Shabbat Chol HaMoed: Context is Key

September 28, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
When studying literature we must study not only its content, but also its form. This is especially true in the study of poetry, where the words themselves offer only a limited understanding of the text. Our Torah, in addition to being a description of the Divine, is a work of profound literature and poetry[1], and our understanding of it is greatly enhanced when we apply literary analysis to its study. The Torah presents the holidays in a...
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Sukkoth: The Beauty of the Etrog

September 23, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Judaism is not oblivious to the power and even importance of physical beauty. Phrases such as yefat tohar v’yefot ma’areh, loosely translated as very attractive, is one we find in the Torah to describe such heroines as Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Esther. The Beit HaMikdash—and, by extension, our shuls—had to physically reflect the fact that it is the dwelling place of G-d. Beauty is to be obvious to all who enter...
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