Angel for Shabbat

Redemption and Exile...and Redemption: Thoughts for Tisha B'Av and Parashat Devarim

As we prepare for the observance of Tisha B’Av, let us take time to ponder the mystery and the wonder of Jewish peoplehood. The Exodus was the formative experience that propelled our people into history. The Exile was the experience that underscored our national courage, resilience, compassion and determination. The Torah was—and is—the foundation of our spiritual teachings, our ideas and our ideals.

Physical and Spiritual Survival: Thoughts for Parashat Ki Tavo

In his essay “Fate and Destiny,” Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik delineates two aspects of Jewish peoplehood: the camp and the congregation. “The camp is created as a result of the desire for self-defense and is nurtured by a sense of fear; the congregation is created as a result of the longing for the realization of an exalted ethical idea and is nurtured by the sentiment of love. Fate reigns in unbounded fashion in the camp; destiny reigns in the congregation….”

The Long Journey--Thoughts for Matot-Masei

Angel for Shabbat, Matot-Masei
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

It is said that when Alexander the Great reached the peak of his career by conquering the entire known world—he broke down and cried.

One explanation for his crying is that he realized that there were no more battles for him to undertake. His best achievements were in the past. He had climbed to the top and had nowhere else to go. He cried in frustration.

Criticism or Contempt: Thoughts for Parashat Korah

When people—individually, communally, nationally—have disagreements, they can engage in serious discussion and dialogue even if the parties are critical of each other’s positions. But when people—individually, communally, nationally—are contemptuous of the other side, then the basis for discussion, debate and reconciliation is undermined. The contemptuous party or parties see themselves as being superior; they are above discussion or criticism; their opponents are discredited and dehumanized.

Second Chances: Thoughts for Parashat Beha’aloteha

An inevitable feature of human life is making mistakes. No one is always right; no one always makes the correct decisions. The sign of greatness is to recognize our mistakes and misjudgments and seek a second chance. Even if one’s original error had been made with the best of intentions, one needs the strength to say: I was wrong; I need a second chance.

The Past as Prelude:Thoughts for Matot-Masei

Angel for Shabbat, Matot Masei

by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

It is said that when Alexander the Great reached the peak of his career by conquering the entire known world—he broke down and cried.

One explanation for his crying is that he realized that there were no more battles for him to undertake. His best achievements were in the past. He had climbed to the top and had nowhere else to go. He cried in frustration.

The "Bil'am Effect:" Thoughts for Parashat Balak

In our world today, we are—unfortunately—accustomed to dealing with biased, hate-filled, and dishonest enemies. We sometimes wonder why people abandon reason and fairness in order to maintain hateful prejudices.
But we also know that the “Bil’am effect” is possible. Some special individuals—steeped in animosity and prejudice—can rise above their biases, can open their eyes, can become forces for good instead of pawns of evil.

Fear or Freedom: Thoughts for Parashat Devarim

In his book, “The Case for Democracy,” Natan Sharansky divides the world into two kinds of societies: fear societies, and free societies. Fear societies are tyrannies which rule by terrorizing their subjects, by restricting freedom of speech and movement, by instilling fear so that people will not voice opposition to the rulers. Fear societies are controlled by tyrants who are not hesitant to brutalize their people in order to quash dissent.