Thursday, 2 November, 2017 - 8:03 pm

Stereotyping is a rotten philosophy. Most of us, myself included, generalize from time-to-time, even when we are unfamiliar with those that we are singling out. On Sunday, I visited Chester, up on the Montana Hi-Line, just thirty miles south of the Canadian border. I was there to visit Stricks Ag, a newly certified company under our Montana Kosher – Vaad HaKashrus of Montanasupervision. Chester is small town and I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone, the kids and I met, were sweet, respectful and gracious. These people could’ve easily been labeled “rednecks” or worse, when in truth they are good people who work the land, love their neighbors and respect people like me who don’t exactly fit the Hi-Line profile.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeira, we read about the moral decay of the five municipalities in Israel’s Sodom region. Just before G-d brought eternal destruction to this local, Abraham, the first Jew and humanity’s most prominent monotheist, beseeches G-d to save the people. He demands of G-d to reexamine the towns and see if, perhaps, there are a few righteous people, whose worthiness would make saving the neighborhood worthwhile. G-d is open to Abraham’s idea, but these people simply did not exist. Abraham didn’t stereotype. It would’ve been way easier for Abraham, who knew the immoral attitude and behavior of these people, to simply “mix out” and allow G-d to do His thing, unbothered. Instead, Abraham, doing what every kind and spiritual person should, individualized instead of generalizing, hoping a few good apples would save the rest. Instead of lumping the good with the bad, he tried to lump the bad with the good.

We are easy to judge “other” societies, yet, get all bent out of shape when “our” society is judged. It’s high time that we stopped looking at others, seeking to find “something” we don’t like about them, and, instead, go out and meet them, talk to them and listen to them over a cup of coffee; it will be pleasantly surprising, even refreshing, when we learn how wrong we are about them. A bumper sticker is glued to the the filing cabinet in my office, it was gifted to me back in 2010 by the beloved Rabbi Yisroel Deren. It says something I try to internalize every day:

Don’t believe everything you think!

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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