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Angel for Shabbat

The Blessing of Wholeness: Thoughts for Parashat Naso, May 30, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Many people feel the need to be noticed. They dye their hair neon green, or they wear immodest clothing, or they say things that are intended to shock. They will do anything to keep the limelight focused on themselves: they will tell a stream of jokes, they will speak without listening to others, they will take “selfies” and send them to anyone and everyone they can think of. The message they convey is: NOTICE ME.

Underlying this thirst for attention is the deep feeling of unworthiness, the fear of not being noticed. Also underlying this exhibitionism is the desire to stand above the crowd, to be distinguished in some way from the normal run of humanity.

The Joys of Boredom: Thoughts for Parashat Bemidbar, May 23, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

This Shabbat marks the wedding anniversary of my late parents Victor and Rachel Angel, of blessed memory, who were married on May 23, 1937. They were wonderful parents whose impact on their family continues to be strongly felt after all these many years.

One of their special qualities was their keen gratitude for the blessings they enjoyed. They valued quiet and calm appreciation of the wonders of life; they lived happily, gratefully, and without jealousy or envy.

The Virtue of Empathy: Thoughts for Behar-Behukottai, May 16, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

I recently attended a daily minyan but could hardly concentrate on my prayers. What was the problem?

One of the worshipers chanted all his prayers in a loud tone of voice, generally a paragraph or two behind the hazzan. The more I tried to focus on my own prayers, the more the loud voice of this person distracted me. Instead of experiencing the prayers with a feeling of spiritual elevation, I found myself feeling annoyed, even angry.

The "Nones" Don't Have it: Do We? Thoughts for Parashat Emor, May 9, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Professor Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University recently published an article, “Why the Future of Religion is Bleak.” He argues that religious institutions have survived historically by controlling what their adherents know, but today that is next to impossible. He points out that the influence of religion has been waning, especially in Europe and North America. In the United States, one out of six Americans identifies as a “None,” a person without a religious affiliation. And the number of Nones is on the increase.

Bad news: Professor Dennett is right. The number of “Nones” in the world has grown rapidly during the past several decades.

Disruptive Innovation: Thoughts for Aharei Mot-Kedoshim, May 2, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The business analyst, Clayton M. Christensen, distinguished between two types of innovations. A sustaining innovation builds on a company’s basic business by improving its products and providing better value. A disruptive innovation creates a new market that displaces earlier technologies. Sustaining innovation focuses on improving existing products; disruptive innovation moves in a new, unexpected direction that radically changes the market. Sustaining innovation is evolutionary; disruptive innovation is revolutionary.

Freedom and Constraints: Thoughts for Tazria-Metsora, April 25, 2015

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

“Tazria” is from the root “zera,” seed. It represents fertility, growth, development. On a broader level, it represents those forces in our lives that help us to be free and strong, that allow us to draw on our talents to be as creative and productive as we possibly can be.

“Metsora” includes the word “tsar,” narrowness. It represents constriction and limitation. On a broader level, it represents those forces in our lives that stultify our freedom and strength, that restrict our movements and our thoughts.

We read two parashiyot this Shabbat, Tazria and Metsora. Perhaps the underlying message is that these two elements go together. Life is composed of ups and downs, growth spurts and plateaus, creativity and suppression.

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.