Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman

Toldot: The Strength of Yitzchak

November 29, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our Sages identified each of our patriarchs and matriarchs with the character traits that they best exemplified. Avraham, the master of hospitality, is the exemplar of chesed, loving-kindness. Yaakov, who learned the effects of mistruth the hard way, is identified with the trait of emet, truth. While practicing distortions, even if legitimate, he suffered his whole life from the deception of others; yet Yaakov...
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Chayei Sarah: Growing Old, Staying Young

November 22, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And Sarah lived one hundred years, twenty years and seven years; these are the years of Sarah's life” (Breisheet 23:1). A famous rabbinic comment elucidating the triple expression of years teaches that Sarah maintained her stunning beauty, intuitive wisdom and sinless innocence throughout her life. Furthermore, the seemingly superfluous ending of the verse “these are the years of Sarah’s life” teaches...
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VaYera: Moving Out of Town

November 15, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fundamental issues of debate amongst observant Jews regards the degree of openness with which one meets the surrounding culture. Should we “ghettoize” ourselves, trying to avoid the negative and pernicious influences of the outside world? Or must we engage the world about us, influencing it and being influenced by it, even if it entails some degree of risk? One must weigh many factors in determining the answer to this...
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Lech Lecha: In Defence of Terach

November 08, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Our rabbis famously debate the righteousness of Noach. Was he a tzadik only relative to the corrupt society in which he lived, or was his righteousness that much greater because he attained it in such in a corrupt generation? While they debate the righteousness of Noach, there seems to be little debate regarding Terach. He was an idolater—not just any standard idolater, but a purveyor of idols thereby spreading idolatry far and...
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Noach: Defending Noach

November 01, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For years, psychologists have debated the impact of the environment (nurture) on the development of human beings. Can we be inherently changed by exposure to our surroundings? Or does our environment act as a mechanism that helps reveal our latent nature? Jewish teachings abound with admonitions regarding the importance of the surroundings we choose. The Rambam (Hilchot Deot 6:1) goes so far as to rule that if one's environment is not...
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