Each individual is expected to draw on his/her best strengths and talents in order to fulfill his/her distinctive mission in life. If one internalizes the feeling of having been chosen to accomplish great things, one can live with vision, energy and sense of purpose.
Angel for Shabbat
Angel for Shabbat, Parashat Yitro
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
The Revelation at Mount Sinai was a national experience for all the people of Israel—but it also was very personal. Each Israelite heard the same words—but in different ways!
Angel for Shabbat, Parashat Beshallah
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.
The experience of having been enslaved in Egypt had a profound impact on the future character of the people of Israel. The Torah reminds us to be compassionate to the stranger--for we were strangers in the land of Egypt. It commands us to treat others with kindness and humanity--because we had been treated with cruelty and inhumanity when we were slaves in Egypt.
When human beings treat each other as objects, humanity suffers. When human beings see their kinship with other human beings and treat each other with respect, humanity begins its process of redemption. We can retain our own humanity only when we recognize the humanity of each of our fellow human beings.
The Torah reminds us not to judge success or strength by external numerical standards. The Israelites were not strong even though they multiplied in prodigious numbers. A hollow oak tree is not strong even if it is ancient and massive. No nation, community, institution or individual can be deemed to be strong unless the inner life is healthy.
The leadership of Israel did not emerge among people who lived sheltered and insulated lives. Rather, it devolved specifically on Joseph and Moses who faced deep challenges and who had to experience conflicts with their fixed ways of seeing the world. The challenges stimulated them to think creatively and courageously.
Imagine how modern media might report charges of war crimes in the biblical story of Egypt and the Israelites. Here is how Pharaoh’s position might be presented.
When we seek freedom and the fulfillment of our spiritual natures, we need to draw on our inner youthfulness and on our anticipated elderly mature vision. Seeing our own lives through the prism of our past and our future helps us to live righteously and happily in our present.
A prevalent custom in Ashkenazic synagogues is for the congregation to stand when the Ten Commandments are read from the Torah. Among Sephardim, the widespread custom is to remain seated during the reading of the Torah, including during the recitation of the Ten Commandments. One should follow the custom of the synagogue which he/she attends.