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

Standing Tall: Thoughts on Parashat Vayiggash

This week's Torah portion includes an enigmatic little episode. "And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob: How many are the days of the years of your life? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh: The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh."

Abraham Wasn't Electable--But He Was Elected!--Thoughts on Parashat Lekh Lekha

Abraham must have been a very unpopular man in the society and family in which he was raised. He wouldn't likely have been elected to lead the citizenry of Ur Kasdim. He rejected their worldview, smashed their idols, repudiated their (un)ethical system. Who would vote for Abraham? He was a starry-eyed mystic and philosopher, not interested in pandering to the values and interests of his fellow citizens.

Seeking Truth: Thoughts for Parashat Tazria

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel
How important is it to admit the truth when one is wrong?

In his book of sermons (Tokhahat Hayyim), Rabbi Hayyim Palachi of 19th century Izmir, opens his discussion of Parashat Tazria, with a reference to Uzziah, a generally successful king of Judah during the 8th century BCE. King Uzziah eventually became arrogant with power, and decided that he could serve as a priest (cohen) and bring an offering in the Temple.

Purification: Thoughts for Shabbat Parah

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel
In ancient times, one who came into contact with the dead body of a human being was considered to be ritually impure and needed to undergo a purification process involving the ashes of a red heifer. It should be remembered that it is a mitzvah to care for a dead body and to participate in a proper funeral and burial. Thus, becoming ritually impure was a “normal” fact of life which occurred to almost everyone.

Messengers and Messages: Thoughts for Shabbat Hanukkah, December 12, 2009

A young man--a convert to Judaism--shared with me some of his frustrations. He had sacrificed mightily to become Jewish. He became estranged from his biological family, many of whom have strongly anti-Jewish attitudes. He changed his lifestyle to conform to the dictates of halakha. He put up with insensitive comments from rabbis and members of the Jewish community.

Thoughts for Hanukkah 2008

by Rabbi Marc D. Angel


I recently had a conversation with a newly-retired person who told me that he tries to find ways "to kill time" now that he no longer works full time. I thought: this man may have 20-30 more years to live; should he be devising ways to "kill" this amount of time?

Might he be planning something more constructive with the time that God allots him?

Thoughts on Hanukkah

The Shabbat of Hanukkah was observed among Sephardim of the Ottoman Empire as "Shabbat Halbashah", the Shabbat of providing clothing for the needy.  Traditionally, the rabbi would deliver a sermon that day on the mitzvah of charity and lovingkindness. Beginning the following day, members of the community would bring clothing to the synagogue and it would be distributed among the poor on Rosh Hodesh Tebet, the sixth day of Hanukkah.