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 "Bystander Problem"--Thoughts for Parashat Yitro

A Talmudic passage (Sotah 11a) offers an imaginary scenario relating to Pharaoh's decision to enslave the Israelites and murder their male babies. Bilam advised in favor of these evil decrees and ultimately died a violent death. Job remained neutral, and was later punished with horrible sufferings. Yitro opposed Pharaoh’s decrees, had to flee, and was ultimately rewarded.

Praying Together and Apart: Thoughts for Parashat Beshallah

When praying as a congregation, we are a community. We are plural. Yet, we are also unique individuals who have different thoughts, feelings, talents and sensitivities. We come together as a “we” but when we begin praying, we do so as an “I.” The spiritual reality is created when the “we” and the “I” are in harmony, when the entire community senses oneness among themselves and in their relationship with God.

Thoughts for Shemini Hag Atsereth

In Jewish tradition, the number seven is associated with perfection. We have 7 days of creation; Shabbat is on day 7; there are 7 weeks between Pessah and Shavuoth; 7 years in the sabbatical cycle; 7 cycles of 7 years in the jubilee cycle; 7 days of Pessah and Succoth by biblical rule.

But what is the significance of 8? What comes after the holiness and perfection symbolized by 7?

This question is especially relevant in relation to the festival of Shemini Hag Atsereth--the 8th day closing festival. No other festival day in the Torah is tied to the number 8.

Confronting Our Enemies: Thoughts for Parashat Vayetsei

In our world today, we confront the Laban and Esau types of enemies. The Labans pose as supporters of human rights—but not for Jews, especially Israeli Jews. They are ruthless in their persistent denigration of Israel. The Esaus are terrorists blinded by hatred.They promote and justify hatred and murder; they rejoice at the shedding of Jewish blood.