Shabbat Zachor – approaching Purim

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat we mark the occasion of Shabbat Zachor, the special Shabbat before Purim. We remember what Amalek did to our people as we anticipate another fight to stay alive during the time of the Purim story.

This week marked another tragedy in our world when a young man shot and killed three students at a high school in Ohio. We remember Columbine, Va. Tech, Northern Illinois University, and other places where horrible loss of life has occurred. Unfortunately, we are once again stunned by the horrors of young people dying.

I often wonder what we can do to try to ensure that these kinds of things do not occur again. I do not have the wisdom to give you an easy answer to this question. We often talk about bullying and how hard children, teenagers, and adults can be on each other. I guess that each of us needs to try to be aware of unkind behavior when it happens and if we are concerned that someone is a bit unstable, encourage that person to get help. If this doesn’t seem realistic, perhaps we need to let the appropriate authorities know if we are witnessing scary behavior.

When Mordecai told Esther that she had to act to save the Jewish people in Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther), she was reluctant to get involved. She is told that “help will come from some other place” that is a subtle hint that perhaps G-d will intervene to save the Jewish people if she doesn’t. Where will help come from to alleviate the pain that so many feel, if we don’t reach out? Will those who are hurting find faith in G-d that will help them deal with the challenges they face in their lives or will they pursue violence as a way of retaliation or dealing with these tough situations?

Last night I went to the Barns at Wolftrap to hear Peter Yarrow, from Peter, Paul, and Mary, who shared the words to the following song, “Don’t Laugh at Me” and also spoke about the following non profit organization, Operation Respect, which has a website that I hope you will peruse, in order to find ways to make our world a little kinder place.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Bruce Aft

PETER, PAUL AND MARY
“Don’t Laugh At Me”
(Steve Seskin/Allen Shamblin)

I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call a geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I have braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep
I’m that kid on every playground
Who’s always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin’ to overcome my past
You don’t have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

I’m the beggar on the corner
You’ve passed me on the street
And I wouldn’t be out here beggin’
If I had enough to eat
And don’t think I don’t notice
That our eyes never meet

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

I’m fat, I’m thin, I’m short, I’m tall
I’m deaf, I’m blind, hey, aren’t we all

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

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