Raising Children and Students

Thoughts on Parashat Beha-aloteha, Shabbat June 14, 2008

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

In describing Aaron's obligation to light the Menorah, the Torah uses the word "beha-aloteha", meaning "when your raise the lights". Rashi comments that this word suggests that Aaron was to kindle the lights until they were able to rise on their own.

Gossips and Slanderers: How to Stop Them: Thoughts on Parashat Ki Tetsei, September 13, 2008

Gossips and Slanderers: How to Stop Them

by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

This week's Torah reading commands us to remember what God did to Miriam while the Israelites were in the wilderness. This refers to Miriam's (and Aaron's) sin of speaking against their brother Moses. As punishment for their evil talk, Miriam (who apparently bore most of the guilt) was stricken temporarily with leprosy. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra notes the correctness of the rabbinic interpretation linking the word metsora (leprosy) with the phrase motsi shem ra (slandering the reputation of another person).

The Judges of Your Generation

The Judges of Your Generation: Thoughts on Parashat Shofetim, September 6, 2008

by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

When the Talmud cannot answer a question definitively, it sometimes uses the word "Teiku". This is understood to be an acronym for the words; Tishbi yetaretz kushyot ubaayot i.e. Elijah the prophet (when the Messiah comes) will resolve these difficult questions and problems.

For Shabbat June 28--Korah

Thoughts on Parashat Korah

by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Korah foments a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and is depicted in Jewish history as an arch-villain and trouble-maker. The Pirkei Avot describes Korah's rebellion as having been conducted "shelo leshem shamayim", not for the sake of Heaven. Like many demagogues, Korah appeals to the masses and tries to turn them against the existing leadership. Korah argues: all the congregation is holy--why should power reside only in Moses and Aaron?

For Shabbat July 12, 2008--Balak

Thoughts on Parashat Balak

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Balak, king of Moab, hired Bil'am to curse the people of Israel. Balak feared the advancing Israelites, and believed that Bil'am had the power to curse enemies and thereby destroy them. The Torah portion describes Bil'am's various attempts to curse Israel--but each time, God put words of blessing into his mouth. He simply was not able to curse Israel.