Monday, August 12, 2013

Ki Teizei

Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19 
by Rabbi Lewis Eron for

Honest Weights and Measures 

Once, during the holy season of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Hasidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, paused in his devotions and looking at his disciples with sad, tear-laden eyes, remarked, "What a funny world it is that we live in these days. There was a time, you know, when Jews would be scrupulously honest in the market place and be the most outrageous liars in the synagogue. These days, however, everything is reversed. The Jews are surprisingly honest in synagogue, but in the streets and market places, I'm ashamed to tell you."

"But rabbi," his followers asked, "why are you so distressed. How can it be bad if Jews are telling the truth is synagogue?"

"I'll tell you why I'm distressed," answered Levi Yitzhak, "In days gone by, Jews were known for their honest dealings. They took the words of Torah seriously. Their 'yes' was always a 'yes' and their 'no' was always a 'no'. They had honest weights and fair measures. Yet, on the Days of Awe they would fervently recite the confessional prayers declaring that they had lied, cheated, swindled and deal dishonestly. This was a lie. Everyone knew that truth and faithfulness were the lamps lighting their way.

"But these days, the reverse takes place. In the streets and in the market place, the world of commerce and social interaction, they lie and cheat, but when they come to synagogue, they, sadly, profess the truth." (Adapted from, Martin Buber, Tales of the Hassidim, Early Masters, p. 230)

The Days of Awe are rapidly approaching. We are now in the month of Elul, the month of repentance that precedes Rosh Hashanah. Soon we will be in synagogue for the High Holy Days and we might ask ourselves if Levi Yitzhak's words refer to us. Where do we tell the truth and where do we lie?

We know that we can live the truth of our faith in our daily lives. We are able to bear witness to our commitment to God and our heritage by the way we interact with each other and our world. All our pious devotions, our concerns with ritual details, our deep identification with the Jewish people and tradition, our profound journeys of spiritual self-discovery mean very little if we do not conducted ourselves in the spirit of truth and honesty.

Continue reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment