Angel for Shabbat

Abraham Wasn't Electable--But He Was Elected!--Thoughts on Parashat Lekh Lekha

Abraham must have been a very unpopular man in the society and family in which he was raised. He wouldn't likely have been elected to lead the citizenry of Ur Kasdim. He rejected their worldview, smashed their idols, repudiated their (un)ethical system. Who would vote for Abraham? He was a starry-eyed mystic and philosopher, not interested in pandering to the values and interests of his fellow citizens.

Eulogies--for the Living: Thoughts on Parashat Hayyei Sarah, November 22, 2009

When Sarah died, the Torah tells us that Abraham came "to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her." Rabbi Haim David Halevy, late Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, noted that this passage seems to describe things in the wrong order. Normally, we would expect that a person weeps when learning of the death of a loved one; then, at a later point, the mourner offers words of eulogy. Yet, the Torah states that first Abraham eulogized Sarah, and then afterwards he wept.

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.

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.