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

The Blessing of Wholeness: Thoughts for Parashat Naso

Many people feel the need to be noticed. They dye their hair neon green, or they wear immodest clothing, or they say things that are intended to shock. They will do anything to keep the limelight focused on themselves: they will tell a stream of jokes, they will speak without listening to others, they will take “selfies” and send them to anyone and everyone they can think of. The message they convey is: NOTICE ME.

The "Nones" Don't Have it: Do We? Thoughts for Parashat Emor

Professor Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University published an article, “Why the Future of Religion is Bleak.” He argues that religious institutions have survived historically by controlling what their adherents know, but today that is next to impossible. In the United States, one out of six Americans identifies as a “None,” a person without a religious affiliation. And the number of Nones is on the increase.

Human Dignity, not Bureaucratic Indignity:Thoughts on Parashat Bemidbar

Halakha works best when it is most human and humane. It is most meaningful when the rabbis and the laymen know each other and understand each other. In an increasingly depersonalized world, the religious community needs to keep focused on the dignity of the individual. We need to foster human dignity, not bureaucratic indignity.

Being True to Oneself and To Others:Thoughts on Parashat Behar

Some years ago, I attended a conference that attracted a number of rabbis and academics. At lunch, I found myself sitting next to a gentleman whose name tag indicated that he was a "Professor". Given his title, I assumed he taught in a university and I asked him what was his field.

Holiness in our Synagogues? Thoughts for Aharei Mot-Kedoshim

A story is told of the great Hassidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev. He had been visiting a town and attended prayer services in the local synagogue. One day, he stopped at the synagogue door and did not enter the sanctuary. The many people who were accompanying him were perplexed. Why did the Rebbe not enter the synagogue? Rabbi Levi Yitzhak told them: “I am not entering the synagogue because it's too crowded.” But the synagogue was empty! The Rebbe explained: “The synagogue is full of prayers, there's no room left for us.

Lessons from Elijah: Thoughts for Shabbat HaGadol

When the Talmud asks a question for which no satisfactory answer is evident, it uses the word "teiku" as a way of indicating that we'll have to wait for the coming of Elijah--messianic times--to receive the correct answer. Elijah will resolve our questions and difficulties.

A question is raised: why will we bring our questions to Elijah? After all, the messianic era will include the miraculous resurrection of the dead. That means that Moses will also be among us. Why don't we bring our questions to him, rather than to Elijah? Moses is our ultimate and greatest teacher of Torah.