Cantor Lee: When Tropical Storm Eta hammered South Florida the weekend after the election I felt as though I was in Noah’s Ark! We certainly have lived through plenty of tropical storms and hurricanes. In fact, two months after Rabbi David and I moved to Florida in the summer of 1992 we needed to evacuate from Miami due to Hurricane Andrew.
But Eta seemed different. After two days of non stop rain the water from our canal was the highest we had ever seen it over the past 26 years in our home! Even the tree trunks were submerged. I kept saying this is a major cleansing just as the biblical flood was . A major cleansing for all of us.
And no, this cleansing is absolutely NOT referring to the results of the election or the political leadership of the last four years. It is referring to the divisiveness in our country, in our communities, in our families. It is heaven crying out that we have forgotten to listen to each other's views rather than blame and call names.
This divisiveness has been an ongoing issue. I still remember in 2008 when Rabbi David gave a High Holy Day sermon about leadership in the Bible. Several people thought he was referring to the current political situation at that time with Sarah Palin and walked out. Ever since then, he makes sure to tell people that his sermons are not hidden political messages.
As Jewish people we have been given the responsibility to live at a higher consciousness, to be a Light in the world. Part of this responsibility means being extremely careful with what we say as each word we utter carries a vibratory energy that affects all of us. With the way this works, a derogatory insult can affect our children even if we are speaking about someone else!
Rabbi David: Ill speaking about anyone under any circumstances is called “Lashon Hara”, which translates as evil tongue. And this includes ridicule and insults. Our sages were very clear about it. Our demeaning language is like a boomerang that comes back at us by way of perpetuating hatred in our own hearts as well as going out to be part of the collective consciousness. When Miriam spoke against her Brother Moses G-d knew to nip it in the bud before her words contaminated others around her. She was given leprosy which required being isolated from the community.
In the political arena this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t express our views or take action with issues. But there is a difference with doing so without ridicule and insults. Of respecting that others can have differing political opinions.
So what can this cleansing do for us? I see it as a gift, a reminder to remember who we are. A reminder to go back to practicing it.
A year ago on Yom Kippur I made a vow with this very subject. I vowed to completely refrain from speaking Lashon Hara in the political or any other area, not even in a suggestive manner. Perhaps you will consider joining me.
We all need this cleansing reminder. Let us turn back into the compassionate Jewish nation that we have always been.
Our wonderful country well deserves it. Upcoming Events
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