Post-Its | Rabbi’s Corner

Rabbi’s Corner: Our Social Compass

Our time in this world is replete with activity, full of action, and fraught with responsibilities. Yet, there are not many things we do more in life than interact with those around us.  As the day and age in which we live gets progressively more distant, those constant interactions are often less than productive. Where one would once receive a tip of the hat and a hearty ‘Good Morning’, he would simply get a nod of the head today. The warm handshake has become a fist bump. The personal conversation has phased into texts. There are countless well-documented studies connecting the advent of digital attachment and attention span diminishment, between social media and antisocial behaviors, etc.

Jewish community, however, has always clung to its culture and unity with a particular tenacity which speaks of a deep-seated belief in the need for such brotherhood. Is this merely cultural, or does the Torah itself, our very guidebook to life, have a stance?

Every year, come the High Holidays in particular, we recite the 13 attributes of mercy. These are the human traits which best describe the divine equivalent. Our goal in this world, as described in the Torah, is to emulate Hashem, our G-d. These traits include patience, tolerance, forgiveness, graciousness and truth.  Many of the Mitzvos prescribed by the Torah revolve around developing our kindness towards others to this very purpose of improving our character, fine-tuning it to closer resemble the godly image after which it was fashioned.

We come to the season of joy, the Jewish month of Adar, and its climax — Purim. We have a few very incongruous Mitzvos on that day- Feasting, giving food gifts to one another, and charity. Whereas on all other holidays, the deeds of the day are between man and G-d, Purim’s are interpersonal. Deeds like Matzah, Shofar, Menorah, Sukkah, and Torah give way to gift-giving. Why the difference?

Purim represents a time where the Jews were saved from a horrific decree of death en masse, ordained by Hashem above in recompense for disparity and divisiveness among fellow Jews. We therefore honor the day by righting the wrong which caused it, and showing unity. These are opportunities to be exploited, using them to engender good will with our fellows and encouraging love amongst Am Yisroel in a time which so desperately needs it.

Let us continue to take advantage of the season which is upon us and use this time to garner love and peace internally so we can be the shining light unto the nations which we have so oft been throughout our tremendous history. May we soon see the coming of the Mashiach in our day.