As we approach the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel, we do so with great pride...and some anxiety. Rabbi Marc Angel ponders the blessings and challenges of this year's Yom haAtsmaut.
The first step for real advancement—personal and communal—is to confess our own shortcomings. Until we come to grips with our attitudes and behaviors, we cannot be spiritually healthy human beings. Yes, there are others who may contribute to our personal failures; but ultimately it is our responsibility to do our best to be our best.
When the Torah calls on us to be holy, it is not asking us to remove ourselves from the ongoing flow of life. Rather, it is calling on us to view our lives with a divine perspective. It challenges us to live on a deeper plane, to experience sanctity in all aspects of our world and our lives.
Today, we don’t have the physical manifestations of tsara’at and we don’t punish anyone by sending them into isolation. However, we can each find occasion to make private time for self-reflection. The goal is to enable us to rise above the pettiness of lashon hara. We aren’t better when we demean others; we actually demean ourselves when we do so.
Elie Wiesel, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, was not only to be a voice and a memorial for the murdered millions. His life’s mission was to serve as a conscience to the world, to remind humanity of the horrors of war and mass murder, to help humanity understand that there should never again be concentration camps, genocide, ruthless and merciless tyranny. We post this essay in commemoration of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, April 18, 2023.
A popular Judeo-Spanish proverb teaches: Aze bueno y echalo a la mar. Do a good deed, and cast it into the ocean. The idea is: do what is right and don’t expect any thanks or reward. The motivation for doing good…is the doing good itself, not the anticipation of gratitude or benefit.
The story of Pessah is a realistic/optimistic story. It tells candidly about slavery, hatred, cruelty, loss of human dignity. But it also tells of redemption, freedom, God’s providence, human development. As it relates to the national history of the people of Israel, it also relates to each one of us.
In social-justice work, there is a true need to harmonize gratitude in the quiet prayerful presence of God, while also knowing there is real suffering and brokenness in the world. Therefore, one of the most powerful tools in this field of work is the strength to refuse to look away and be silent.
Special individuals, like their many illustrious predecessors, have in common a commitment to the truth, abhorrence of corruption, and the fearlessness that enables them to speak out in support of what is right and just. They serve as role models for the Jewish people wherever they may reside.
The founders of modern psychology focused a great deal on the unconscious mind. They recognized that there was a resistance between the thoughts that we held in our unconscious and those that were present in our conscious minds. It was through the enigmatic riddles of our dreams that they saw the unconscious attempting to make itself known to us and bring the latent parts into the manifest.