Tazria: Birth and Death

There is no greater joy than having a child. From a religious perspective, bringing new life into this world is the most tangible way of demonstrating that we were created in G-d’s image. The initial biblical portrayal of G-d is that of a Creator. And the first mitzvah given to man is to be fruitful and multiply and to conquer the earth, mandating us to imitate and partner with G-d in the continuing process of creation. The Torah describes...
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Shabbat 31: Awe and Fear

April 22, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Thoughts from the Daf
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your G-d demand of you but l’yirah, to revere the Lord your G-d, to walk only in His paths, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul” (Devarim 10:12).  There is little, our tradition teaches, that is more important than yirat Hashem, awe[1] of the Creator. Imbued with it, we are only too happy to “submit our will to...
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Shmini: Comforting Cousins

At times of crisis, true leaders often emerge, be they political, military or religious. Their ability to effectively provide inspiration, motivation, hope, and comfort when needed sows seeds of evolutionary growth in the life of a nation. This is equally true on a personal level, especially when a sudden tragedy strikes. It is in these situations that great people reach for strength and ability they did not even know they possessed. ...
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Pesach: Good and Comfortable

April 13, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Seemingly, one of the more depressing debates in rabbinic literature is one that the houses of Hillel and Shammai argued about for two-and-half years: "These say: It would have been preferable had man not been created than to have been created. And those said: It is preferable for man to have been created than had he not been created" (Eiruvin 13b). Even more depressing is the conclusion reached by the Talmud that, ...
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Pesach: The Simple Wise Son

April 07, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Holiday Thoughts
Much ink has been spilled and much discussion ensued in trying to analyze the difference between the question of the chacham and the rasha. On the basis of the question alone, there appears to be little reason to identify one as wicked and the other as wise. When all is said and done, the line between good and evil is often very thin indeed. It is not easy to know how and why one child will use his wisdom for good and another...
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