Civil Discourse Ad Pre-Tish'a B'av

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					      LOCAL RABBIS SHARE PERSPECTIVES ON THIS
TEACHING OF A MODERN SAGE REGARDING CIVIL DISCOURSE
                              Words can hurt — words can heal: Reflections on the eve of Tisha B’av

   A building requires different parts to be                     I often find the task of truly listening to                God desired initially to create only through
   functional, safe and secure: foundation,                      people whose viewpoints differ from my                     benevolence, but one dimensional
   floors, walls, roof, windows, wires, and                      own to be challenging. To really engage in                 kindness wasn’t sustainable. Judgment
   myriad other parts. A community is like                       this, I have to continually remember that                  was added and the result was compassion,
   a building. The structure of community                        my own view is in some way partial, and                    because in order for the world to endure,
   is not whole until every opinion is                           that the person who I am with may know                     one vision, even a Godly one of love,
   included. Some say: “We need this.”                           something essential that I need to hear.                   needed to make room for another vision
   They are windows. Some say: “We                               A close friend of mine once criticized me                  as well. Thus the rabbis have taught: “the
   need that.” They are wiring. Some                             because I had objected to something she                    Torah was only given to bring peace to
   say: “We cannot survive without this.”                        had said without having really heard her                   the world” because the Torah represents
   They are roof. Others say: “We cannot                         words. She looked into my eyes and said,                   the multifacetedness of the Creator of
   survive without that.” They are                               “Burt, listening is an act of love.”                       the world and his creations, of which
   foundation. So it is with candles, wine                                            – Rabbi Burt Jacobson                 no two minds are the same. Thus where
   and challah on Shabbat and festivals.                                    Kehillah Community Synagogue                    there is uniformity there is no peace. True
   We cover the challot for several                                                                                         peace can only emerge from different
   reasons, including not to “shame” the                                                                                    visions and energies learning to coexist.
   challot when blessing the fruit of the                                                                                                        – Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi
   vine during Kiddush. If we cover our                                                                                                    Congregation Chevra Thilim
   bread to not shame her, how much
   more so must we not shame our fellow
   community members when we feel our
   opinion is more important or comes                                                                                       Discourse in our community has been
   before theirs.                                                                                                           profoundly dark. People disagree with
                    – Rabbi Pamela Frydman                                                                                  anger. Others with whom they disagree
    Academy for Jewish Religion, California                                                                                 are vilified and called stupid, naïve,
                                                                                                                            ignorant – or worse. Amidst this darkness
                                                                                                                            come sparks of light – light of holy
   From the beginning of the giving of                           Like a magnificent edifice,                                controversy. Passionate disagreement
                                                                                                                            carried out with deep respect. While
   Torah, we learned to be open to the                           world peace will be                                        participating in the Year of Civil Discourse,
   impossible. When God gave the Torah
   to us on the mountain, the entire people                      constructed from many                                      the cohort at our synagogue has learned
                                                                                                                            that we can disagree with all our hearts,
   saw the thunder. (Exodus 20:15)                               different components, for                                  souls and minds – yet hold onto love.
   The soul experienced what the mind
   would reject as impossible. At times we                       the truth that will illumine                               We are learning to probe deeply into the
                                                                                                                            story and logic of those with whom we
   think there is no way to hear or learn                        the planet can only be                                     disagree and, in so doing, sparks of light
   from someone whose opinion may seem
   like the opposite of ours. We must                            shaped through the                                         begin to fill a space where only darkness
                                                                                                                            existed. We are learning that when we
   remember that at the giving of Torah,                         integration of divergent                                   learn to withhold harsh judgment, hold
   the impossible was possible.
                                                                 points of view and ways                                    back anger, explore curiously – while
   When we come together in a minyan of                                                                                     holding onto our own integrity – that we
   ten, we create a community. Without                           of thinking. As our sages                                  can begin to envision the building blocks
   one person, there is no minyan. Each                          have taught, “both these                                   of the peace our community needs.
   person’s presence makes it possible for                                                                                  We are learning that when we see points
   the others to pray. My prayer for all of                      and those are the words                                    of view with which we fervently disagree
   us is that our souls can hear one another                     of the Living God.”                                        as potentially the words of the living
   even when our minds think that hearing                                                                                   God, we are able to hold onto each
   is impossible.                                                       – Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook                          other as reflections of divinity.
                      – Rabbi Chaya Gusfield                                         “Olat Ra-a-ya”                                              – Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray
                   Beth Chaim Congregation                                                                                                     Congregation Beth Jacob


                             D I S COU R
                    VIL                    SE
               CI
                                                 IN I
        F
     YE AR O




                                                      TIAT IVE




                                                                                              The	
  Jewish	
  Federation
         AJ




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                                                                                     The	
  Jewish	
  Community	
  Foundation
                                                EC




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                    , SF                   P   RO
                           JCF &
                                   NCBOR                                                          OF THE EAST BAY




For more information on the Year of Civil Discourse Initiative, contact Randi Dodick Fields at rdfields@jcrc.org
JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION AND ENDOWMENT FUND | 121 STEUART STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105 | 415.777.0411 | JEWISHFED.ORG

				
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posted:8/25/2011
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