Jay Kelman

Mikketz: Counting on Charisma

This week's d’var Torah is dedicated in honour of Ira and Rona Kellman, for organizing a family reunion of 305 members of the greater Kelman family from around the world this Shabbat Chanukah in Stamford, CT.

Yosef was a most charismatic figure. How else to explain the appeal he had to so many people? The Torah wastes little time in telling us that, both in Potiphar's home and in jail, he immediately found favour in the eyes of his bosses. It is hard to believe his work ethic alone got him such quick promotions. His personality must have radiated competence and leadership.

VaYeze: Jacob's Journey

“And Jacob was a pure man, dwelling in the tents” (25:27). Like his father before him, Yaakov had little interest in the wider world surrounding him; he preferred to remain near home, engrossed (in the view of our Sages) in study. He was the direct opposite to his twin brother, who was “a man of the field”. The fact that Yaakov is cooking soup while his brother is out hunting—apparently for sport, as he returns from the hunt famished—exemplifies their very different personalities.  But as is often the case, circumstances have a profound effect on one's initial plans.

Lech Lecha : The Man of Faith

“And G-d said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land, your birthplace and the land of your fathers’”. With nary a word, Abram picks himself up and, along with his wife and nephew, departs for an unknown land. Yet his stay there is short, as soon afterwards famine ensues and Abram descends to the land of Egypt.  

Was this a prudent move to feed his family, realizing—as he did—that one may not rely on miracles? Or did Abram demonstrate a lack of faith in G-d, who had promised Abram that in his new land he would become the leader of a great nation?  

The End of the Euro

Portugal, Greece, Italy. Who might be next? As Europe and the world fret over the possible collapse of the euro, finance ministers, economists and analysts debate and discuss what measures are needed to save the world from possible financial ruin. It is hard for me to imagine that any economic solution will have much long-term impact unless and until a fundamental shift in thinking takes place, and the underlying moral issues are addressed.

Sukkot: A Look Ahead

The history of our nation is linked with Pesach. Many of our mitzvoth—mezuzah, tefillin, Shabbat, honest weights, the prohibition of charging interest—are directly related to our Egyptian experience. There is an obligation to recall the Exodus on a daily basis and to relive that event once a year at the Seder. Sukkot seems like a minor festival in comparison. 

Lessons from Steve Jobs

The saintly sage Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan (the Chafetz Chaim, 1838-1933) once commented that every technological innovation carries within it a moral message. As one who literally wrote the book on the laws of gossip and slander, he saw the invention of the telephone as teaching—warning, perhaps—that what one says over here is heard over there. He would be kept very busy today with daily moral messages.

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