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Angel for Shabbat

Silence and Screams: Thoughts for Parashat Shemini, April 18, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu brought a “strange fire” to the altar and were immediately stricken as Divine punishment for their sacrilege. Upon learning of the tragic deaths of his sons, Aaron must surely have been horrified. Yet, the Torah reports: Vayidom Aharon, and Aaron remained silent.

Silent? How was he able to remain silent at such a moment? We would have expected an emotional outburst, a cry of grief…anything but stone silence.

Perhaps we can gain deeper insight by focusing on the word “Vayidom,” and he was silent. This word is related to “dam,” blood. What the verse may be saying is that while Aaron remained silent on the outside, his blood was raging with emotion inside of him.

The Money Throw…and Redemption: Thoughts at the Conclusion of Pessah

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

As a child growing up among the Sephardim of Seattle, I experienced Judaism as a happy and loving way of life. We seemed to have an endless stream of parties, wonderful food, beautiful singing. One of our customs at the conclusion of Pessah was—and still is—the “money throw.”

Seeing What Seems Not To Be There: Thoughts for Pessah 5775

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

I recently read of a phenomenon known as “inattention blindness.” When people are focused on a particular thing, they tend not to see anything that interferes with their concentration. For example, psychologists asked a group of people to watch a film of a basketball game and to count how many times team members passed the ball to each other. While the people were engaged in viewing the basketball game and concentrating on their assignment, the tape showed a person walking right through the center of the picture in a way that would obviously be noticed. Yet, when the viewers were later asked about the screening, about 75% of them had no recollection of having seen a person walk through the basketball court. They were “blind” to this interruption in their concentration.

Remembering Rabbi Paul E. Schuchalter: Thoughts for Parashat Tsav, March 28, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

“A constant fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it shall not go out” (Vayikra 6:6).

During the past week, our family observed the eighth anniversary of the passing of my father-in-law, Rabbi Paul E. Schuchalter, of blessed memory. He had served for many years as rabbi of Congregation Sons of Israel in Suffern, New York. He also served as Jewish Chaplain of the Good Samaritan Hospital. Upon his retirement, he remained active in his rabbinic work, teaching and counseling.

Hiring and Firing: Thoughts for Parashat Vayikra, March 21, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, was asked what he looks for in a prospective employee. He replied: “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.” I assume he was referring to top echelon employees, people who would have major executive responsibilities. If these people shared the values and work ethic of Mark Zuckerberg, then he would be ready to work for them. If they lacked those qualities, he would not hire them because he would not want to work for them either.

Religious Music/Muzak: Thoughts for Vayakhel-Pekudei, March 14, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

When we visit malls, take elevators, or get put on hold on telephone, we frequently find ourselves hearing some sort of music. Actually, this music is often called muzak, based on the Muzak corporation which first developed it.

It’s a strange kind of music. It is played in order to create certain psychological moods. It can subconsciously induce shoppers to spend more time and money at malls; it can affect our moods in ways the purveyors wish to influence us. Muzak sounds like regular music but it generally has no beginning, middle or end. We hear it in the background and hardly pay attention to it. After hearing muzak, we don’t walk out whistling a tune we just heard. Indeed, we hardly remember having heard it.

Resisting the Bullies: Thoughts for Parashat Ki Tissa, March 7, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

When the Israelites pressed Aaron to make them an idol of gold, the Torah informs us: “And all the people broke off the golden rings which were in their ears and brought them unto Aaron” (Shemoth 32:3). It seems that “all the people” participated in idolatrous behavior.

Yet, when it came to contributing to the building of the Mishkan, the sanctuary of God, the Torah states that donations were to be given only by those with generous hearts, “of every person whose heart was willing” (Shemoth 25:2). The donations came not from “all the people” but from a smaller group of willing donors.

Light for Our Synagogues:Thoughts for Parashat Tetsaveh, February 28, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring unto you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually” (Shemot 27:20).

The Ner Tamid (eternal light) was a basic feature of the Mishkan as well as of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Symbolizing the Almighty’s constant presence and providence, the Ner Tamid has been a vital component of our synagogues throughout the generations.

In many communities, the lighting of oil lamps in the synagogue was a sign of respect for the beauty and holiness of the sanctuary. This custom derived from a verse in the book of Isaiah (24:15): “Therefore with lights show honor to the Lord.”

Facing our Faces: Thoughts for Parashat Terumah, February 21, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

In his book, “Creativity, The Magic Synthesis” (Basic Books, 1976), the late psychiatrist Dr. Silvano Arieti discussed the process of creating a work of art. The artist perceives something directly and then attempts to interpret it through imagery. Various processes are at work. “Preceding thoughts and feelings about an object affect the way he perceives it directly. In other words, past experiences of the object—everything he knows and feels about it—influence the way he sees that object” (p. 194).

Misleading is Also a Form of Lying: Thoughts for Parashat Mishpatim, February 14, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The New York Times of February 6, 2015, included a long article under the caption: “Strains Grow Between Israel and Many Jews in the U.S.” The article focused on unhappiness with the monopoly of Israel’s Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in matters of marriage, divorce and conversion to Judaism.