Jay Kelman

The Value of Uncertainty

The stock market hates uncertainty. This helps explain the wild gyrations of the markets, unable to “decide” whether we are headed for a double-dip recession or whether the trillions in corporate profits are a reflection of the good times ahead. Is it the millions of North Americans looking for work or standing in line to buy the latest iPhone that are the true indicator of our collective economic shape? The fact that the news of both groups is true just adds to the confusion. Spending decisions, business investment and hiring are to a large extent dependent on confidence in the future.

Shoftim: Justice for Blemished Animals

“Do not sacrifice to G-d, your Lord, an ox or sheep that has a blemish; any bad thing, it is an abomination to the Lord, your G-d” (17:1). While it is understandable that our offerings to G-d should be wholesome, the Torah's condemnation of this practice is rather striking. The Torah refers to a blemished offering as a to'evah, an abomination. Such harsh language is generally reserved for sins of great severity, such as having dishonest weights and measures (Devarim 25:16), or idolatry (17:4).

Income Disparity

One must be “thankful” when the news coming out of Israel is the high price of cottage cheese.  As is so often the case, it is a relatively minor event that sparks major repercussions, often with unintended consequences. This is true not only in national or international relations but in our personal lives as well. Modern technology enables issues that may have taken decades to surface in the past to do so in weeks, days or even hours. Yet despite the power of modern technology, not every problem can be solved as quickly as it surfaces.

Eikev: Missing Commandments

Had things gone according to plan, the Chumash would be a much shorter book. If not for the sin of the golden calf, there would have been no need for a second set of tablets; and there would have been, at least according to Rashi (Shemot 31:18), no need for a Mishkan. It was only because of the chet haegel that there was a need for a tangible place that would serve as the central place to worship G-d.

Thoughts on Tisha B'Av: Constructive Hatred

One does not have to look very hard to find sources within our tradition that allow, encourage, or even demand that we “hate” others.  While the mitzvah to love our neighbour as ourselves is, according to Rabbi Akiva, the fundamental principle of the Torah, many restrict our neighbour (re'acha) to re'acha b’mitzvot, our neighbour in mitzvoth, excluding those are not observant.

RiM Woes

As we have often noted, economic decisions reflect moral choices. As the world economy slowly recovers from near-catastrophe, another potential disaster looms in the horizon: that of the United States government defaulting on its debt. While families understand that they cannot live beyond their means, governments worldwide seem oblivious to this fact; after all, they can just print money as needed.

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