Angel for Shabbat

Sanctifying God's Name, Sanctifying our own Lives:Thoughts on Parashat Devarim, July 17. 2010

We recently returned from a wonderful trip to Israel. As we sat in the waiting area of the BenGurion airport terminal before the flight, we noticed a young family nearby--a husband and wife and their little children aged 12 and under. As could be expected, the children were restless and wanted to run around and play.

The mother, in a soft voice, spoke to the children: It's fine to play, but please remember: everything you do should be a "kiddush Hashem" (a sanctification of God's name). The children understood their mother's message, and they played nicely and quietly.

Spiritual Yearning:Thoughts on Parashat Eikev, July 31, 2010

I recently attended Shabbat morning services at a synagogue that was having a "Carlebach Shabbat". A group of "Carlebachians" led the services, and sang many of the prayers to music composed by the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

I happened to be sitting next to one of the organizers of this Shabbat event, and I asked him: what does a "Carlebach Shabbat" service provide, that seems to be lacking in the "regular" synagogue service? He pondered for a few moments, and then answered in one word: "Yearning".

I have been pondering this response ever since.

University Network Update

Shalom. I hope you've been having a good summer, and I wish you all the best. Here are a few items of importance for members of the University Network of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

1. Please make sure that we have your correct mailing list on file. You may go to our website,, and check your My Account page. We plan to mail out the new issue of Conversations (Orthodoxy and Ethics) in early September, and it's important that we have your correct mailing address.

Exile and Redemption: Thoughts for Shabbat, August 21, 2010

Life is filled with choices. We have all made fateful decisions which have determined our road of life. We chose a school to attend, a career, a spouse, a lifestyle, friends, a level of religious observance. Indeed, everything we are today is the result of the many choices we have made throughout the course of our lives.

We may look back at our various decisions and ask: were they right or wrong? Should I have done this or that? Am I living my true life, or have I actually taken the wrong path, a path not true to myself, to who I really am?

Religion and Charlatanism: Thoughts for Parashat Ki Tavo, August 28, 2010

What is the difference between a genuine religious leader and a charlatan?

A genuine religious leader tries to bring people closer to God, tries to inspire people to intensify their spirituality so that they may approach God and live in the spirit of holiness. A genuine religious leader tries to foster receptivity to a religious worldview, empowering the individual to draw on his/her inner resources in the quest to come closer to God.

Listening for Our Inner Song: Thoughts on Parashat Lekh Lekha, October 31, 2009

(This Angel for Shabbat column is sponsored by Yossie and Linnie (Tovli) Simiryan, in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the passing of Reb Shlomo Carlebach.)

After going to battle to save his nephew Lot, Abraham meets with the king of Sodom. The king offers Abraham the booty from the war but Abraham declines to take anything for himself. Abraham introduced his response with the words: "I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth..." Most commentators take this to mean that Abraham took an oath.