Angel for Shabbat

Rabbi Marc D. Angel offers thoughts for discussion at your Shabbat table. Please visit this column each week, and invite your fa

Amalek Lives! Thoughts for Shabbat Zakhor

This week's maftir portion includes verses commanding us to obliterate the memory of Amalek, the classic arch-enemy of the people of Israel. Yet, the Torah also lists other peoples who oppressed the Israelites. The Egyptians enslaved us for centuries; the Edomites and Moabites harmed us--yet only Amalek is singled out for our eternal enmity.

Gestures and Realities: Thoughts for Parashat Yitro

A prevalent custom in Ashkenazic synagogues is for the congregation to stand when the Ten Commandments are read from the Torah. Among Sephardim, the widespread custom is to remain seated during the reading of the Torah, including during the recitation of the Ten Commandments. One should follow the custom of the synagogue which he/she attends.

A Thinking Judaism: Thoughts for Parashat Mishpatim

This week's Torah portion begins with God commanding Moses : "And these are the ordinances that you shall set before them." Rashi comments that God instructed Moses not to teach the Israelites by rote, but to explain the reasons for the laws. If the people had the opportunity to study the reasons behind the laws, they would more likely internalize and fulfill them.

Worries about our Worrying: Thoughts on Parashat Beshallah

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.

 

Standing Tall: Thoughts for Parashat Va’era

Often enough, people are confronted with wickedness and injustice; but instead of standing tall in opposition to the perpetrators of evil, people bow their heads. They lose self-confidence. They think: I am too small and too weak to resist. It’s best to go along or to stay quiet. Resistance can be unpleasant, even dangerous. Thus, evil continues to spread.

Thoughts on Anti-Semitism and the Future of Humanity: Thoughts for Parashat Shemot

The ancient and so-far uncured disease of “anti-Semitism” is reflected in this week’s Torah portion. Pharaoh tells his people: “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come let us deal wisely with them …lest they join themselves unto our enemies and fight against us…” (Shemot 1:9-10). Pharaoh’s description of the situation is not only wrong, but reflects wild paranoia.

Seeking the Almighty: Thoughts for Parashat Vayiggash

Professor Alan Brill recently noted: “Consumerism has turned the church [and synagogue] from an ‘ocean-liner’ designed to move people from point A to point B (connecting people with God), to a ‘cruise ship’, that is, in itself, the destination.” (“The Emerging Popular Culture and the Centrist Community,” in Developing a Jewish Perspective on Culture, ed. Yehuda Sarna (New York: Yeshiva University Press, 2014), pp. 31-32.)