People are greatly in need of a liberating religious message. We yearn for relationship with our fellow human beings; we reach out for a spiritual direction to the Eternal Thou. It is not easy to be a strong, whole and self-confident I; it is not easy to relate to others as genuine Thous; it is a challenge to reach out to the Eternal Thou. Yet, without these proper relationships, neither we nor our society can flourish properly.
Purim is a reminder that there is a fine line between reality and illusion. Blurring that line once a year underscores how easily one might lose sight of truth and authenticity. But after the day of masquerading, we are supposed to have come to a better understanding of who we are under the mask…and who we are when we don’t wear masks.
The current policies of the Orthodox rabbinic/beth din establishment are causing anguish to thousands of would-be converts and their families; are turning would-be converts away from Orthodoxy; are de-legitimizing Orthodox rabbis and converts who do not subscribe to the "establishment" positions; are causing thousands of halakhic converts to fear that their and their children's halakhic status will be undermined.
We may find it jarring to come into contact with Jews who observe minhagim different from ours. We may think that their practices are quaint, or odd, or plain wrong....The hope is that through greater awareness and empathy, we will function as a stronger, happier, and more diverse Jewish community. We need a genuine recognition that in our various searches for Divinity, different Jewish communities have followed diverse—perfectly halakhic and proper—roads.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel describes the lives and teachings of significant American Sephardim of the Western Sephardic tradition. These men and women were influential during the course of their lifetimes...and deserve to be remembered and appreciated.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel is one of the rabbinic respondents to questions posed by the Jewish Press newspaper. Here are some of his recent replies.
Rabbi Marc Angel presents some thoughts on Rambam's teachings, and on a new book by Menachem Kellner and David Gillis, "Maimonides the Universalist: The Ethical Horizons of the Mishneh Torah."
The very weapons with which our enemies sought to destroy us—those very weapons were used to spread the light of Judaism! The Maccabees were demonstrating that their victory was not merely successful in a military sense. Rather, it was also—and pre-eminently—a spiritual victory. The enemy’s spears were transformed into branches of the Menorah, bringing light into the Temple, restoring worship of the One true God.
Increasing lights is an appealing concept, both aesthetically and spiritually. When we cast light on a problem, we clarify the issues. The more light we enjoy, the less we succumb to shadows and illusions.It is all too easy to make mistaken judgments by chasing shadows rather than realities.
Rabbi Dr. Sabato Morais (April 13, 1823-November 11, 1897) was described by a New York Yiddish newspaper as “without doubt…the greatest of all Orthodox rabbis in the United States.” This encomium was written several years after the death of Morais, when a full picture of his life and accomplishments could be written with historical perspective. Today he is hardly remembered...but he should be!