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Rabbi's Week In Review- 8/26/2020

08/26/2020 07:07:19 PM


This past Shabbos, we explored how our individual character traits impact the work we do in helping others, the strangers in our midst. The catalyst for this particular Kol Ami Shabbat study session encompassed three elements: (1) This past week began the Jewish month of Elul, a time in which we begin to contemplate who we are and how we act, all in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; (2) last week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, featured an important discussion of justice; and (3) last week’s Democratic convention prominently featured speeches on character — more specifically, the character traits of empathy, compassion and accountability.

The Jewish lens through which our discussion unfolded was through Mussar, a systematic and highly intentional approach to cultivating our most positive character traits. These traits, known as middot, can radiate out into our communities, nation and world to effect positive change. It is how we become what the prophet Isaiah referred to as a “light to the nations.”

Every year when we reach Elul, we have the opportunity to engage in contemplative self-reflection, to cultivate our middot — our best character traits for self-improvement.  Moreover, by so doing, we have the opportunity to improve the lives of others.

In these days leading up to the November 3 election, we also have the opportunity and obligation to evaluate and scrutinize the character traits of those who desire to hold positions of leadership in our cities, our states and our nation. Ultimately, we have the right and the obligation to go vote. Let us hold these leaders to the same high standards we maintain for ourselves. The decisions we make will never be more important.

Wed, September 23 2020 5 Tishrei 5781