This was an exciting week for me with the opportunity to meet the President and to have all the wonderful pictures and video to remind me of this special occasion. It reminded me of how fortunate we are that on a day in which we remembered the Holocaust I could be standing by Elie Wiesel, a number of survivors, and meeting the President. We should never take for granted the freedom we enjoy in our world and how fortunate we are to live in the United States of America in which we can freely practice our religion. I We know that as it says at the Korean War Memorial, “freedom is not free” and the commemoration of the Holocaust reminds us of what can happen in societies where people don’t enjoy freedom. (see pictures from the link below)
On a separate note, this week we read the Torah portions “Tazria-Metzora” from the Book of Leviticus that among other things deals with leprosy. We are taught that this portion may be meant to teach us about how lashon hara or negative speech can wound us and how in the same way we sometimes isolate the leper, that we sometimes jump to conclusions based upon hearsay. We read this portion every year to remind ourselves not to speak negatively about others and to not speak idle words of slander or gossip.
My favorite prayer is the meditation after the Amidah that says, “O God, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from telling lies…” This quote is attributed to the Chofetz Chaim, a rabbi who loved life and taught us that the secret of life is fulfilling the words of this prayer. I hope we can learn from his teaching and will be careful in the words we use. When I was a child we were taught that “sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” Today, we are taught by Robert Fulghum, author of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” who wrote that “Sticks and stones can break your bones and words can break your heart..” Let us mend hearts with the words we use and the deeds we perform…
Rabbi Bruce Aft
GMU Hillel Rabbinic Advisor