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“Thursday was a day of sorrow, of mourning, of rending; and yet it there was Torah in the midst of the whirlwind.
Azeh hu hacham, halomend m’kol adam — Who is wise? The one who learns from all people. It’s a verse found in the Mishna, in Pirkei Avot, but it is also written here, on the atarah of my tallit, as it has been from the day I was ordained a rabbi. It’s the code that I have tried to live by in my life and certainly in my rabbinate. There is always something to learn, from everyone, even those you disagree with, especially those you disagree with.
So, what can we learn from the events of Thursday, what can our tradition teach us from such a revealing moment in the tearing of our social fabric?
I think there are at least three lessons that Jewish tradition can illuminate and that transcend these two people, the politics of the day and even this moment in history, as transcendent as it already is:
1. Everything is part of your permanent record
I tell my Bnai Mitzvah students that our lives are a book that we write with every action we take everyday. That up until age 13 those pages are written in pencil, you can cross out, you can erase, but from the age of majority in Judaism, from age 13, we start writing in ink and what is written then is indelible, it will follow us forever. Even the more true in the age of social media and the internet…”
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