Jay Kelman

VaYelech: The Last Message

The time has come for new leadership. “I am no longer able to come and go, and G-d has told me you will not cross the Jordan” (Devarim 31:2). While the people complained plenty about Moshe's leadership, clearly they were very nervous about him leaving the scene. Moshe reassured the people that all will be fine with Yehoshua, and that he, too, will have Divine assistance in his mission.

Chanukah: Looking Backward and Forward

The holiday of Chanukah is a most beloved one. Lighting the candles is the only mitzvah that has, built into its performance, a three-tiered system: what we may call good, better and best. We begin with the basic mitzvah of one candle per household on each of the eight nights of Chanukah. We may opt for the more beautified version, mehadrin, where we light candles according to the number of people in the home on each night.

Lech Lecha: Family Feud

“G-d said to Avram, go away from your county, your birthplace and your father’s home, to the land that I will show you” (Breisheet 12:1). While it is self-evident that Avraham would take his wife with him, it  is not at all obvious that his nephew Lot would or should accompany him. Perhaps it was precisely his family—parents, sibling, cousins, nieces and nephews— that he must leave behind in order to establish a great nation in a faraway land.

Bamidbar: Making Mistakes

In order to be effective, leaders must be sensitive to the feelings and concerns of the general populace. It is not only fact, but also perception that matters. Leaders must have higher ethical standards, and they must also be seen by the public in this light. Any perception (especially if it's true!) that they are above the law renders their moral leadership compromised.

Parshat Shekalim (Pekudei): Pre-empting Haman

“Reish Lakish said: It was well known beforehand to Him at whose word the world came into being that Haman would one day pay shekels for the destruction of Israel. Therefore, He anticipated his shekels with the [half] shekel of Israel. And so we have learned, on the first of Adar, we announce [the obligation of giving] shekalim” (Megillah 13b). 

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