Angel for Shabbat

In Search of Wholeness: Thoughts on Parashat Terumah, February 28, 2009

In relating the instructions for building the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the parasha indicates that the Tablets of the Law (the Ten Commandments) are to be placed in the ark. The ark was to become a central feature in the spiritual life of the people of Israel, and the Tablets were to be an ongoing reminder of the Revelation at Mt. Sinai. We know, however, that there were two sets of Tablets given at Sinai. The first were shattered by Moses when he descended the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping a golden calf.

Love Others as Yourself!?! Thoughts for Parashat Kedoshim

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

“And you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Vayikra 19:18).

Rabbi Akiva considered this verse to be a great principle of the Torah. Indeed, it is widely considered to be the “golden rule” that is at the root of human morality and civilization.

The only problem is: is it really possible to love one’s neighbor as oneself? In some special cases, the answer is yes. But in many cases, it would seem to be unlikely, if not impossible, to love others as oneself—especially if they are unlovable!

How to Worry Properly--Thoughts for the Seventh Day of Pessah

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.

Seeking Truth: Thoughts for Parashat Tazria

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel
How important is it to admit the truth when one is wrong?

In his book of sermons (Tokhahat Hayyim), Rabbi Hayyim Palachi of 19th century Izmir, opens his discussion of Parashat Tazria, with a reference to Uzziah, a generally successful king of Judah during the 8th century BCE. King Uzziah eventually became arrogant with power, and decided that he could serve as a priest (cohen) and bring an offering in the Temple.

Purification: Thoughts for Shabbat Parah

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel
In ancient times, one who came into contact with the dead body of a human being was considered to be ritually impure and needed to undergo a purification process involving the ashes of a red heifer. It should be remembered that it is a mitzvah to care for a dead body and to participate in a proper funeral and burial. Thus, becoming ritually impure was a “normal” fact of life which occurred to almost everyone.

Messengers and Messages: Thoughts for Shabbat Hanukkah, December 12, 2009

A young man--a convert to Judaism--shared with me some of his frustrations. He had sacrificed mightily to become Jewish. He became estranged from his biological family, many of whom have strongly anti-Jewish attitudes. He changed his lifestyle to conform to the dictates of halakha. He put up with insensitive comments from rabbis and members of the Jewish community.

Thoughts for Hanukkah 2008

by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

 

I recently had a conversation with a newly-retired person who told me that he tries to find ways "to kill time" now that he no longer works full time. I thought: this man may have 20-30 more years to live; should he be devising ways to "kill" this amount of time?

Might he be planning something more constructive with the time that God allots him?

Thoughts on Hanukkah

The Shabbat of Hanukkah was observed among Sephardim of the Ottoman Empire as "Shabbat Halbashah", the Shabbat of providing clothing for the needy.  Traditionally, the rabbi would deliver a sermon that day on the mitzvah of charity and lovingkindness. Beginning the following day, members of the community would bring clothing to the synagogue and it would be distributed among the poor on Rosh Hodesh Tebet, the sixth day of Hanukkah.