Angel for Shabbat

Thoughts for Thanksgiving

It is altogether fitting that Jews join fellow Americans in observing a day of Thanksgiving to the Almighty for all the blessings He has bestowed upon this country. Jews, in particular, have much reason to thank God for the opportunities and
freedoms granted to us in the United States.

Thoughts for Yom Kippur

It is customary to make peace with those whom one has mistreated, disrespected, maligned or betrayed. It is customary to increase charitable contributions to those institutions that foster proper Torah values and that provide assistance to the needy. These things are important in themselves; but are especially important when entering Yom Kippur when we seek atonement from the Almighty.

Stand Up, Stand Tall: Thoughts for Parashat Vaera

Often enough, people are confronted with wickedness and injustice; but instead of standing tall in opposition to the perpetrators of evil, people bow their heads. They lose self-confidence. They think: I am too small and too weak to resist. It’s best to go along or to stay quiet. Resistance can be unpleasant, even dangerous. Thus, evil continues to spread.

Good Intentions?--Thoughts for Parashat Ki Tetzei

The famed American Jewish novelist, Saul Bellow, coined a phrase: "warehouse of good intentions." People had intended to contact an old friend...but didn't get around to it.  People had planned on supporting a particular charity...but didn't find time to write the check. People had wanted to express their appreciation and love to a special person or persons...but the opportunity seemed never to arise.

Overcoming the Disease of Hatred: Thoughts for Parashat Vayeshev

Joseph’s brothers learned to overcome jealousy and hatred. They learned to escape the “syndrome of decay” that eats away at the fiber of life. They learned that life is not a zero sum game; that their winning did not depend on someone else losing; that all humans could live so much more happily and meaningfully if they adopted a syndrome of love and cooperation.

Optimism and Laughter as Religious Values: Thoughts on Parashat Vayishlah

The Jewish people need to draw on the strengths of each of our patriarchs. Like Abraham, we need a powerful spiritual vision that can transform the world. Like Jacob, we need the strength and courage to struggle and defeat those who strive with us. Like Isaac, we need to be optimists. We need to have calm, wise faith. We need to laugh, and to share our laughter with others.

What is Your Name? Thoughts on Parashat Shemot

When I was a student at Yeshiva College many years ago, I saw a passage scribbled onto a subway wall at the IRT 181st Street station. That passage had a big impact on me then, and continues to be important to me so many years later. The passage was a quotation from Alan Watts: "For when man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique."