Ki Tavo: The Presence of G-d

August 30, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In the secular world in which we live it can be—and often is—hard to feel the presence of G-d. The Western world has turned religion into a private issue by establishing a wall separating church and state. Undoubtedly, this separation of church and state has had great benefits for the Jewish community. The tremendous growth and confidence of American Jewry is in no small measure due to the constitutional barring of the public...
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Ki-Teze: Demanding More

August 22, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When studying Torah we must study not only its content, but also its form; not just what the Torah says, but also how it says it. Proper study requires that we analyze, as best we can, the editorial decisions of the Divine author of the Torah.  Why, for example, are the laws of shmitta divided such that the agricultural aspects are presented in parshat Behar, whereas the fact that outstanding...
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Menachot 6: Benefitting Sinners

August 19, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
In 1977, the New York State Legislature passed the “Son of Sam law”. Named for serial killer David Berkowitz’s adopted name, the law forbade criminals from profiting from their actions; for example, by selling book rights to their stories for millions of dollars. In 1991, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the law, arguing that it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment...
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Shoftim: Enabling Evil

August 17, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Evil does not exist in a vacuum. A culture is needed for evil to be nurtured, in which it can grow and develop. And when that happens, aveirah gorreret aveirah; one misdeed leads to another, greater sin. Perpetrators of corporate wrongdoing do not begin by defrauding shareholders of billions of dollars. Rather, they might begin with a little plagiarism in college, and some padding of a resume. They may then move on to...
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Menachot 2: The Power of Logic

August 15, 2018 By: rabbi jay kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
There is seemingly no better proof for a Talmudic viewpoint than support from a biblical verse. Expressions such as dik’teev, “it is written”, or shene’emar, “as it says”, appear on almost every Talmudic page and are used to introduce biblical texts in support of a given view. While sages may argue on how to interpret the verse—and thus, often reach different conclusions...
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