This week, memorial programs will be held in Rhodes, marking the anniversary of the deportation of Jews of Rhodes in July 1944. Rabbi Marc D. Angel delivered this sermon on July 26, 2014 at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seattle, Washington, when the community marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from the islands of Rhodes and Cos, nearly all of whom were murdered in Auschwitz.
This week’s Torah portion has the only mention of “the book of the Wars of the Lord” (Sefer Milhamot Hashem). Commentators and scholars speculate about what was contained in this now lost book. Was it a collection of poems in praise of God? Was it a record of the Israelites’ wars? Who had access to this book? Who wrote it?
Megillat Ruth is characterized by deliberate ambiguity. Not only are multiple readings possible; these ambiguities are precisely the vehicles through which the short narrative captures so many subtleties in so short a space.
We are to see life as a journey with an unfolding road ahead. When we reach one goal, we should then look ahead to our next goal. Once we stop this process, our lives stagnate and regress into the past.
Even before the covid pandemic, some had the feeling that "large synagogues" were facing serious problems. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein wrote an important article highlighting the importance of large synagogues. Looking beyond the pandemic era, we need to think carefully about our synagogues...and our community as a whole.
Lo Titgodeu is a warning to the Jewish People and to the world. When we “cut” ourselves into self-enclosed and self-righteous groups, we ultimately “cut” ourselves off from our fellow human beings…and from God.
Rabbi Yosef Hayyim unequivocally endorses a curriculum for Jewish education in which from the earliest age onward the student devotes hours of study to Torah and to general knowledge in parallel. He rejects the view that the rationale for such study is, to enhance understanding of Torah. Rather, he presents and endorses four valid rationales for study and acquisition of general knowledge:
A well-known Jewish aphorism is “zekher tsaddik livrakha” (Proverbs 10:7), the memory of a righteous person is a source of blessing. This is not just figuratively true, but in many cases it is factually true. A righteous life can continue to impact on descendants for generations to come.
Angel for Shabbat, Parashat Shelah Lekha
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
To ascribe quasi-prophetic powers to a small clique of Talmudic scholars is intellectually unsound. It undermines a thinking faith and condemns the public to sheepishly follow the opinions of an unelected group of “gedolim.”