I Feel Disappointed in Orthodox Jews When They…
- Sit in judgment of others, as our sages teach “Don’t judge another man until you have stood in his place.” (Ethics of the Fathers)
- When they do that judging in public, as the Talmud says, “He who publicly shames his neighbor is as though he shed blood.”
- When they commit acts of fraud, as the Torah says, “From a dishonest thing distance yourself.”
- When they look down on less observant Jews and non-Jews, as our sages teach “Who is honored? He who gives honor to others.” (Ethics of the Fathers)
- When they are afraid to speak up for what is right, as our sages teach “In a place where there are no men, strive to be one.” (Ethics of the Fathers)
- When they abuse others and justify that abuse through Torah law, as Nachmanides teaches that one is able to be “navel b’rishus haTorah” – meaning people can find ways to be disgusting or immoral through acts the Torah hasn’t explicitly forbidden but which are against the way a religious Jew should live.
I feel proud of Orthodox Jews when they:
- Exhibit exceptional kindness, as our sages teach, “The world stands on three things: Torah, service, and acts of loving kindness.” (Ethics of the Fathers)
- Display compassion for all people as we are taught to emulate Hashem who is “El Rachum v’Chanun” (God of Mercy and Compassion).
- Hold themselves to the highest standards of honesty in business, as the Talmud warns us, upon dying the first thing we will be asked is “Were you honest in your business dealings?”
- Give others the benefit of the doubt, as our sages teach “Give all people the benefit of the doubt.” (Ethics of the Fathers)
- Are slow to anger and easy to appease, as our sages call this person “righteous.” (Ethics of the Fathers)
- Remember that “we all ought to be worried about our own souls and other people’s bellies,” as the great Rav Salanter said.
As Hillel told the would be convert who asked him to sum up the entire Torah on one foot “What is hurtful to you do not do to another. The rest is commentary.”
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