Who is thinking about our souls? Who is investing the time and thought to foster a religious life that is deep and strong, that can withstand popular pressures and market demands? Who is reminding us that when it comes to the human spirit, instant gratification is not the path to long- term growth and development?
Angel for Shabbat
If people come to think that the religious establishment is corrupt and is susceptible to undue external influence, then the foundations of religious life are seriously eroded. If religious leaders sell out their independence in the desire to curry favor with this or that religious "in-group"--then Judaism and the Jewish people suffer the consequences.
We all may have good intentions; but we also have the uncanny ability to come up with rationalizations why we cannot fulfill these good intentions. We find excuses justifying why we can't attend minyan, or can't contribute more to charity, or can't spend time learning Torah, or can't find more time to spend with our families, or can't invite guests to our homes etc.
The "tam" accepts Jewish belief and ritual, but his/her question isn't about what to do--but about why. The "tam" wants to understand how the laws and customs increase one's closeness to God, how they enhance spirituality. The "tam" is saying: yes, I'll do what the religion requires, but I need something more. I need to know the inner spirit of what the religion demands of me.
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel
Q. What is the text of an Emergency Alert sent out by a Jewish Organization?
A. Start worrying! Details to follow.
This joke reflects an ongoing reality of Jewish life. There always seems to be something to worry about, some crisis that is about to erupt, some threat to our survival. Even when we don’t yet know the details, we are called upon to get into the worrying mode.
Whatever kind of work we do, we can see it as a job, or a career--or a calling. A shift in vision, a shift in attitude--and we can become different and better and happier people.
This is a time of renewal, a time of re-assessment of where we've been, where we are, and where we are going. While this is a time for personal reflection and re-commitment to Torah and halakha, it is also a time to pray for and reach out to those who have drifted away and have become spiritually complacent.
Scholars have found that many people have optimistic and energizing starts…but they often cannot follow through on their good intentions. Daily prayer each morning can help us start strong…and stay strong.
Angel For Shabbat, Parashat Vayikra
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
A popular Judeo-Spanish proverb teaches: Aze bueno y echalo a la mar. Do a good deed, and cast it into the ocean. The idea is: do what is right and don’t expect any thanks or reward. The motivation for doing good…is the doing good itself, not the anticipation of gratitude or benefit.
The destruction of the Temples in antiquity were a serious blow to the Jewish People. But the Jewish religious genius has taught us to overcome tragedies, to remember them, but to dream of better days yet to come. In this spirit, I am offering an interpretation of the first Mishna of the Talmud.