Divrei Torah

VaYeshev: Coats and Goats

December 10, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
We tend to divide the Bible into narrative and law. The former teaches ethical and moral values while the latter instructs us on how we must conduct our life on a day-to-day basis. Yet it would be a mistake to see these as two separate realms. The stories, many concentrated in Sefer Breisheet, often serve as the background to the law as later promulgated in the Torah. Perhaps the most obvious example is Yaakov's struggle with the angel,...
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Pesachim 6: 30 Days Notice

December 08, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the principles of Biblical interpretation is that the Torah is not necessarily written in chronological order, ein mukdam umeuchar baTorah. Thematic considerations are generally more important than chronological ones.  Yet in editing the Mishna, Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi generally does follow chronological order. The shisha sidrei Mishna, the six orders of the Mishna, are written in order. Hence, masechet...
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VaYishlach: Where Was Rivka?

December 04, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fascinating (and, at times, frustrating) aspects of the Torah is how much information it does not tell us. We know nothing of Abraham’s first 75 years, are left in the dark regarding most of Moshe’s first 80 years and so many of the laws of the Torah are written in a way that is somewhere between obscure and incomprehensible. Of course, this is intentional; and analyzing what makes it into the text and why, and what does...
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Pesachim 7: Let the Dough Rise

December 02, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
One of the requirements our Talmudic Sages set for the receiving of semicha, rabbinic ordination, was the ability to speak clearly (Sanhedrin 5b). We are all familiar with brilliant people who are very poor teachers, unable to clearly explain complex matters to their students. While they may make great contributions to their respective fields, they are not the ones meant to teach others. Torah is no different. It is much more...
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Vayezei: Making One Pray

November 27, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And G-d saw that Leah was hated, and He opened her womb" (Breisheet 29:31). Apparently, Leah—as was the case with Sarah, Rivka, and Rachel—was meant to have difficulty conceiving, but as "compensation" for being hated, G-d granted her easy conception. The inability to have children when one desperately wants to can be a source of great sadness and suffering. How one reacts to such a predicament can be quite...
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