From the Bima

Rabbi Howard S. Herman DD

Stay True To Who You Are

We live within a cacophony of noise.  I am not just talking about audio of things like jets, and busses and dump trucks, jackhammers and construction sites.  That kind of decibel is annoying and destructive to our physical anatomy.  But the noise I am referring to comes from distractions.  How often do we get distracted from our goals, or our direction, or our morality, or our knowledge of the “right” thing to do?  We get distracted for a whole host of reasons.  There are voices all around us telling us what we should do, why we should do it, what we should want, what we should go after and how to go after it.  There is the press and the media, where opinions are never in short supply.  There are the politicians who lay out a view of the future for you which they tell you, you should want and need.  There are clergy who also try to lead you in a given direction.  So, I guess what I am saying is that there is a hurricane of voices out there all attempting to lead you in a given direction.  This is especially acute now as we come into political election season.

Judaism teaches us that living a good life is based on good actions.  Things like walking in God’s ways and keeping commandments.  It also emphasizes the importance of acting in everyday life rather than just having beliefs.  Here are some Jewish values that can guide us in keeping our eyes on the prize.  By the way if you haven’t already guessed, the prize is being able to continue to live in a free democracy where our values are cherished and not simply kicked to the curb like yesterday’s trash. 

Justice, also known as Tzedek, this value includes insuring that everyone no matter who they are, where they are from, what their personal preferences are for themselves, is treated with dignity and respect.

Repairing the World, also known as Tikun Olam, this value includes charitable works, such as the giving of loving kindness.

Truth and Integrity, living a life guided by truth and integrity can help create communities that are based on trust, cooperation, and mutuality.

Sanctity of human life is a value that includes the concept of p’kuach nefesh, or “saving a life”.  The Torah teaches that every human being is created in the likeness of God, making each life sacred.

Uniqueness, in the Jewish tradition, teaches that God created each person to be unique and that everyone has a unique contribution to make to the world. 

If we can keep these cherished ideas in the forefront of our minds during this upcoming election when we are consistently bombarded with rhetoric from all fronts it will help us not only “keep our eye on the prize” but also to block out those things that chip away at these sacred values.  Use your heritage as a guide.  These will quiet the turbulence in your soul.  They have never let you down before, nor will they now.

Shalom Uvracha

Rabbi Howard Herman DD

Naples Jewish Congregation