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Do You Live In Shushan or In The Mishkan

02/25/2021 01:46:15 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Let’s talk about dress up. So many of us love wearing costumes of Purim, but Purim is not the only time when wearing special clothing is part of Judaism.  The Torah requires that the Kohanim who serve in the Mishkan (and the Beit Hamikdash) must wear special garments.  Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Purim and this week’s Parsha (Tetzaveh), one of the portions that deal with these special vestments, occurs in the...Read more...

Find Your Torah

02/19/2021 10:42:25 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

תּוֹרָ֥ה צִוָּה־לָ֖נוּ מֹשֶׁ֑ה מוֹרָשָׁ֖ה קְהִלַּ֥ת יַעֲקֹֽב׃

Moses commanded us a law, An inheritance for the assembly of Jacob.

The author of the Sefer Hachinuch is scared…

The Sefer Hachnuch is a medieval work whose author is unknown. Despite that, it is an incredibly popular book...Read more...

The Mitzvah Sandwich and The Matron

02/11/2021 11:12:53 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Welcome to the first interactive Dvar Torah!

[Q. What is interactive text study?  A. Read the Dvar Torah and click the link at the end to answer questions and share your thoughts on the text]

Join your friends and community members in a shared text study. 

Below there are instructions on how you can participate...or you can just read and think about these things on your own...BUT, I would LOVE to...Read more...

Be A Builder

02/04/2021 11:14:44 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Reward and punishment! 

The idea is a central teaching in Judaism. It is so important that we include a statement of our belief in reward and punishment in our daily tefillot. The second paragraph of the Sh’ma is a declaration of our belief in reward and punishment (Deuteronomy 11: 13-21). 

I had a teacher in fifth grade who had a “Zap Book”. It was a little notebook with a sticker...Read more...

Pharaoh and Game Theory

01/29/2021 10:42:00 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

It is perhaps one of the strangest pesukim in the Torah.

וַיֻּגַּד֙ לְמֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם כִּ֥י בָרַ֖ח הָעָ֑ם וַ֠יֵּהָפֵ֠ךְ לְבַ֨ב פַּרְעֹ֤ה וַעֲבָדָיו֙ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ מַה־זֹּ֣את עָשִׂ֔ינוּ כִּֽי־שִׁלַּ֥חְנוּ...Read more...

Our Little Platoon

01/22/2021 09:44:39 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

א֣וֹ הֲנִסָּ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֗ים לָ֠בוֹא לָקַ֨חַת ל֣וֹ גוֹי֮ מִקֶּ֣רֶב גּוֹי֒ בְּמַסֹּת֩ בְּאֹתֹ֨ת וּבְמוֹפְתִ֜ים וּבְמִלְחָמָ֗ה וּבְיָ֤ד חֲזָקָה֙ וּבִזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבְמוֹרָאִ֖ים גְּדֹלִ֑ים כְּ֠כֹל אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֨ה...Read more...

What's your Story?

01/15/2021 08:45:39 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I love this story told by Rabbi Yakov Nagen.



Our story inspires other stories. 

We are commanded to remember the exodus...

Face To Face

01/01/2021 09:48:49 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Everything is about to change. Yaakov is dying.

וַיְהִ֗י אַחֲרֵי֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְיוֹסֵ֔ף הִנֵּ֥ה אָבִ֖יךָ חֹלֶ֑ה וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶת־שְׁנֵ֤י בָנָיו֙ עִמּ֔וֹ אֶת־מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה וְאֶת־אֶפְרָֽיִם׃

And it came to pass, Joseph was...

The Synagogue and The Shop

12/18/2020 11:33:01 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I am not ready to say goodbye to Chanukah yet. 

Parshat Mikeitz is often read on Shabbat  Chanukah, so let’s begin (before we say goodbye to Chanukah) with a Halacha regarding when Shabbat and Chanukah coincide.

If one is confronted with the [simultaneous mitzvah] to light one’s household lamp [for Shabbat] and to light the Hanukkah lamp… then the [Shabbat] household lamp takes precedence because it contributes...Read more...

For The Commandment Is A Lamp, The Teaching Is A Light. Keeping Faith In The Torah

12/11/2020 11:02:57 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

This week’s Sermon is sponsored by the Levy and Pokroy families in memory of Nat Levy - Natan ben Yechiel Halevi ob”m

Rabbi Solomon Luria (1510 – November 7, 1573)  known as the MaHarSHaL , was one of the great Ashkenazic poskim (decisors of Jewish law) of the 16th century. He wrote important books offering his interpretations of the Talmud and decisions as to which authority we should follow in terms of practical...Read more...

The Sun Rose For Yaakov...It Will Rise For Us

12/04/2020 11:00:51 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman


Rabbi Samson Raphels Hirsh has a problem with the prohibition against eating the Gid Hanashe, It is not a culinary objection, Rav Hirsh does not feel that the absence of the Gid Hanshe will have an adverse effect on his menu. His concern is far more fundamental than that.   

The Torah uses grand language when declaring the prohibition of eating the Gid Hanashe. (Gen. 33:32)


Getting To Gratitude

11/25/2020 11:31:36 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

For some this may be a challenging Thanksgiving. Without the large family gatherings and with an altered national  mood due to the pandemic, it may be hard for some people to get to a state of gratitude.  

I would like to repackage a wonderful spiritual practice regarding prayer to help in this area.

The Talmud (Berachot 32a) states: Rabbi Simlai taught: One should always set forth...Read more...

Life: It's A Thorny Issue

11/20/2020 08:26:30 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Syreeta Scott, owner of the salon Duafe, still wants to be at the top of the natural hair-care game. But now her post-COVID-19 dream includes investing and developing real estate. She bought the North Philly building where her salon is housed and is committed to providing fair housing for her tenants. “My dreams for myself now include activism,” said the 45-year-old entrepreneur.

I was really moved by this account. The...

Living In Three Time Zones

11/13/2020 09:58:27 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

In memory of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Have you ever asked yourself what it means to live an outstanding or uncommon life?

Many of us have role models who we look to for inspiration. We read biographies of great people that provide insights into their life and motivate us to emulate them as best we can.

While not a full biography, this week’s parsha offers  us insight into Sarah’s life and...Read more...

Don't Get Stuck!

11/06/2020 11:45:40 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

This week’s sermon is sponsored by Naomi and Mike Levy and Family In memory of Larry Jaeger, Naomi Father,whose yahrzeit is this weekend.

We are in the midst of a trying time in this country. The election has shown that we are a divided country. The election has indicated that it is hard to change people’s minds. 

All this talk of change on a national level has has brought me to think about...Read more...

Persistence and Avraham's Hotel Loyalty Program

10/30/2020 10:27:34 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Did Avraham invent the idea of the hotel loyalty rewards program?

Strangely, it sounds like he did.  After the episode in Egypt when he almost lost Sara his wife, we are told:

וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ֙ לְמַסָּעָ֔יו... 

And he went on his journey 

Rashi teaches that 

כְּשֶׁחָזַר מִמִּצְרַיִם לְאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן הָיָה הוֹלֵךְ וְלָן בָּאַכְסַנְיוֹת שֶׁלָּן בָּהֶם בַּהֲלִיכָתוֹ לְמִצְרַיִם, לִמֶּדְךָ דֶּרֶך אֶרֶץ, שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁנֶּה אָדָם מֵאַכְסַנְיָא שֶׁלּוֹ.Read more...’re being a bigger blessing than you realize

10/23/2020 11:09:16 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I dedicate this Dvar Torah in the merit of a Refuah Shleimah for Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

I got the most amazing email a few weeks ago from a president of a Congregation in a different city.

Hello Rabbi,

XXXXXXX is kind enough to forward your mailings to me.  You were so kind to give me permission to quote you…

I want you to know the mitzvahs you’re building up because of this.  We’re a very...Read more...

Leave An Impression

10/16/2020 09:59:49 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Are you dreaming differently these days. Recently there have been some articles reporting that the CORONAVIRUS pandemic is altering sleep patterns and  the way we dream.

Rabbi Moshe of Coucy (1200-1260) was not living through a pandemic, but he did have a very strange dream. It happened when he was writing his now famous Sefer MItzvot Gadol (SeMaG) an early example of a Halachik code that discusses each of the...Read more...

The Potter's Sukkah

10/02/2020 10:56:02 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

In the days of the Talmud, potters and perhaps other shop keepers would live in a Sukkah, within a sukkah. They would live , eat their meals and conduct their personal life in the smaller sukkah, while the outer, larger sukkah was reserved for business  - selling their wares, etc.

This interesting setup caught the attention of the Rabbis of the Talmud and they wondered if these various sukkot could be used to...Read more...

Happy Yom Kippur? A Kol Nidrei Drasha

09/27/2020 11:48:39 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman


I came across these instructions given to non jews in terms of how to extend Yom Kippur greetings to Jewish friends.  “Your first inclination might be to wish your Jewish friends “Happy Yom Kippur!” because, after all, “Happy Hanukkah!” works. But heaven forbid, do not do this. Yom Kippur is a solemn day. Much better you say, “Have an easy fast” or “Good yontif,” or “Good holiday”...Read more...

Isolated But Never Alone

09/27/2020 11:04:46 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Back in April, families who lost loved ones fighting in the IDF expressed how hard it was to not be able to go to the  military cemetery. 

Sivan Rahav-Meir noted that these families lamented not being able to invite friends and relatives over.  

This is not the only example of folks feeling alone and isolated in the recent months, but it is surely one of the most...Read more...

Let’s Talk About Dancing

09/24/2020 10:04:33 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Let’s talk about dancing. I am sure that dancing is not the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about this time of year and  Yom Kippur…Maybe we can change that.

Presumably we have all been engaged in Teshuvah  -  repentance for the last month. We have prayed, we have recited selichot, we have asked for forgiveness and we have engaged in introspection.  

An article I recently read...

Regaining What Was Lost - A Rosh Hashanah Sermon - 5781

09/15/2020 12:13:41 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I want to let you in on a personal struggle of mine. Sometimes I feel that I do not know where to turn. COVID-19 has created a new paradigm for our and every other community with so many new needs, concerns and objectives, that sometimes I feel that it is too much. 

I wonder if any of you are feeling this way or have felt this way over the course of the last six months.

What are we supposed to do about...

God Desires Our Heart. A Rosh Hashanah Sermon - 5781

09/15/2020 12:09:29 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the creation of the world. We declare it in the Rosh Hashana davening - Hayom Harat Olam - today the world was created. This year, this phrase takes on new meaning.  Looking around, it certainly feels like a new world. There is so much that is unrecognizable.


So much of what we experienced is not what we expected or what we had been prepared for...certainly not what...Read more...

Gathering In Spirit When We Can't Gather In Person

09/11/2020 12:02:49 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

It is more than a bit strange that while we are all experiencing various levels of isolation that  one of the two Mitzvot found in the second of this week’s Parshiyot, Parshat Vayeilech, is the Mitzvah of Hakel - the obligation of all of Bnei Yisrael to gather in Jerusalem once every seven years. 

Here is how the Sefer Hachinuch describe the Mitzvah:

להקהיל כל ישראל בחג...

Cultivating Joy In The Service of God

09/04/2020 01:04:28 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

How would you characterize the Jewish people? 

Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg notes that the Jewish people have lots of labels - we are called “The People of the Book” - for example. But he proposes that the most authentic and descriptive title for us should be אומה עליזה - the joyful nation or the  happy nation. 
Whether we are a happy nation, or are supposed to be a happy nation, Rabbi...Read more...

Look Out Your Window And Be Thankful For Your Spork

08/27/2020 09:59:23 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I have been thinking about gratitude lately. Mostly because our family is celebrating a simcha this weekend - Ami’s Bar Mitzvah -  and I am incredibly grateful for the many many blessings in my life.  But, I have also been thinking about gratitude because I do not think there is enough of it. 

This is why I have recently added a Hakarat HaTov - Gratitude -  section to my weekly erev Shabbat...Read more...

A Pinch of This and a Dash of That...Ingredients For The Perfect Community.

08/21/2020 09:38:43 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

 וְלֹֽא־תָקִ֥ים לְךָ֖ מַצֵּבָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׂנֵ֖א יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃

Do not erect a stone pillar; for such the LORD your God detests.

Why does God hate a מַצֵּבָה - a stone pillar?

A number of commentators on the Torah explain this by comparing the usage and physical structure of a...Read more...

Pete and Repeat Were On A Boat

08/14/2020 11:34:38 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I read a heartbreaking story about the the increased number of orphans left behind due to parents dying from Coronavirus. It is not an angle that I had considered.  It reminded me, yet again, about the ongoing cost of the pandemic and how new areas of concern and responsibility present themselves. 

This week’s parsha presents is with an approach the ever present needs that we encounter.


Inherit and Create

08/07/2020 10:00:37 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

As Bnei Yisrael are about to enter the Land of Israel, Moshe presents a biting critique of their spiritual state. 

שְׁמַ֣ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אַתָּ֨ה עֹבֵ֤ר הַיּוֹם֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָבֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת גּוֹיִ֔ם גְּדֹלִ֥ים וַעֲצֻמִ֖ים מִמֶּ֑ךָּ עָרִ֛ים גְּדֹלֹ֥ת...Read more...

Fri, February 26 2021 14 Adar 5781