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Parshat Behar

Dear STOCS Friend

We live in a challenging world. The more I read, see, experience, and hear, the more I am astounded by how hostile simple interactions between people have become. It deeply saddens me that those basic daily conversations at home, work, or social events often leave people emotionally bruised, angry, and upset.

Frances Gingino writes, “As a culture, we need to get rid of our tunnel vision, be open to hearing both sides of the argument (no matter how much we disagree), listen more, understand better, and stop fearing that our views, shaped by our experiences, will harm our relationships with others. We must respectfully explain our views, using facts and statistics to support our opinions. Blanket statements and unsupported views will never be taken seriously. But we need to be open to dialogue, and the surprising thing is that we may reach a compromise if we sit down, talk, listen, understand, and remain open-minded.”

I'm not suggesting we need to agree on everything; rather, we need to reclaim our humanity, caring, and sensitivity toward one another. Rabbi Marvis discusses the concept of honor in Pirkei Avot, asking, “Eizehu mechubad” – who is an honorable person? The answer is “hamechabd et habriyot” – someone who honors others. You are the most honorable person if you respect the honor due to other people.


We are nearing the end of the mourning period for the students of Rabbi Akiva, where 24,000 died due to the lack of honor and respect they showed each other. People often ask how they could act in such a manner, but a look at our society today provides a clear answer. Honor and respect are traits we must develop, strengthen, and utilize. We were created in the image of God. It is time we lived up to that expectation.


I wish you all a good Shabbas. I hope and pray the hostages come home safely and soon!


Rabbi Shore


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