This week's Angel for Shabbat was written by Jonathan Arking, who is serving as a student summer intern for our Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. Jonathan is an incoming Freshman at Princeton University.
Angel for Shabbat
How we communicate is just as important as the content we are communicating. Until we learn to engage in discourse that is truly civil, we, too, will be stuck on the precipice of our promised land, unable to progress together toward a greater society.
To focus exclusively on the universal aspects of Judaism, though central to Judaism’s mission, is to do a disservice not only to the Jewish tradition, but all of humanity. Without a real foundation in its particular mission in the world, Judaism will struggle to contribute universally. Similarly, to focus exclusively on the particularistic aspects of Judaism corrupts its very purpose within humanity.
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.
Albert Einstein observed: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” We should be grateful for the luxury of being bored. We should seek opportunities to have “nothing to do.” We should find the time to un-plug from our machines and our phones and…just be.
As we celebrate the Shavuoth festival commemorating the Revelation at Mount Sinai, it would be appropriate for us to recall the symbolic virtues of Mount Sinai—humility, awareness of limitations, openness to new and unique revelation.Although Shavuoth will be different this year due to the covid 19 pandemic, we pray that the festival will imbue us with hope for the future, with blessings of good health and happiness.
During this covid 19 crisis, we see the whole and the broken tablets of humanity. Both are part of the human reality. But the Torah reminds us to think ahead, to look to better times. It calls on us to pick up the broken pieces and regain our sense of balance and commitment to the future.
Here are two "Angel for Shabbat" columns, one for the 7th day of Pessah on how to worry properly; and one for the upcoming Shabbat on the sounds of silence...and screams.
Although there are those who promote the impurity of Metsora, there are also many who promote freedom and creativity, beauty and harmony. Life is an ongoing struggle between Tazria and Metsora.
The hope for religion is the growth of religious institutions that actually take their parishioners seriously, that don’t insult their intelligence, that speak to their spiritual needs. Educated people are not—or should not be—looking for a religion that depends on ignorance and subservience, or that fosters superstitious beliefs and practices.