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Holiness in Venezuela!

Friday, 10 May, 2019 - 8:08 am

Anti-Semitic terrorism in Poway and Israel, Prince Harry and Meghan giving birth to royalty and of course hearing the name Robert Muller three thousand times a day, but sadly, it’s only an occasional shock-value news piece that focuses on the absolute horror being experienced by the people of Venezuela. I have a pretty good imagination, but somehow, I can’t wrap my head around children, in an oil rich country, dying of hunger, elderly being left in medicine-depleted hospitals and millions, like the Jews being exiled to Babylonia, leaving their homeland just so they can survive.

This week’s Torah portion, Kedoshim, one my all-time favorites, has fifty-one Mitzvot including so many that are interpersonal in nature. We are taught that holiness begins with the basics: to have a just court system which doesn’t favor the wealthy or overly empathize with the poor, don’t be a gossiper, love your neighbor, don’t seek revenge, respect your elders and sages, don’t hold a grudge, don’t have uneven measures to cheat your customers, fear your parents, love the convert, help the poor, and so many others. These are all holy ways in which G-d holds us accountable to live lives of honor, treating every human being with dignity.

First lady Barbara Bush once said, “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way”. This is something I try to impart to my children every day. Life is not a popularity contest nor is it an endeavor of selfish pursuits, rather it’s a G-d given opportunity to enhance the world for all and to do so by seeing other human beings as having been created in G-d’s image. Dictatorships begin when we forget this vital perspective.  In Venezuela, Gaza, Sudan and, sadly, even the United States, at times, we forget that mistreating/disrespecting others, is not a reflection of them but representative of our moral failure and lack of self-respect.

Loving your neighbor starts with respecting them!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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