Let's Listen To Some Lashon Hara

September 12, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
“Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: the majority [of people sin] regarding theft, a minority regarding adultery, and all with lashon hara” (Bava Batra 165a).   Not surprisingly, these three sins make up a significant portion of the al chets we recite on Yom Kippur. And if one wonders what areas one might focus on in seeking to do better, any of the above would be a good place to start....
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Rosh Hashanah: A Call to Unity

September 09, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
The blowing of the shofar is a most enigmatic mitzvah. The reasons we eat matzah, sit in the Sukkah or take the lulav are readily apparent; they commemorate historical events and/or agricultural seasons. Yet the reason for the blowing of the shofar leaves us mystified. As far as we can tell from the Bible, no actual events took place on the "first day of the seventh month" that would warrant it being declared a...
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Menachot 18: Loving Torah

September 08, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“Blessed are Torah scholars for whom the words of Torah are very dear to them” (Menachot 18a). One can tell much about a person by seeing what makes them happy. For the true scholar there is almost nothing that brings greater joy than gaining further knowledge and insight into the subject matter at hand. Whether or not there is practical significance to the new discovery of knowledge is almost irrelevant. Knowledge is valuable and...
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Nitzavim: Near and Dear

September 06, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the most vexing issues in Biblical interpretation is the relationship between pshat, loosely translated as the plain meaning of the Biblical text, and derash, the additional levels of interpretation that can be derived from that same text. At times the two appear contradictory; as, for example, the Torah's obligation of "an eye for an eye". The phrase seems to imply just that, but has always been understood...
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Menachot 12: Time over Space

August 31, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
There is no area of Jewish law as regimented as that of sacrifices. There are strict rules as to the type of animal that may be brought, when and where they are to be brought, who can eat from the korban and for how long. The Torah regulates exactly what parts may be offered on the altar, what parts may be eaten by kohanim, by non-kohanim, by men and by women. There are detailed laws regarding the...
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