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ב"ה

WHAT RABBI LORD JONATHAN SACKS TAUGHT ME ABOUT CHANGING THE WORLD

Friday, 13 November, 2020 - 11:23 am

 

This past Saturday evening right after the Sabbath, I read the sad news that Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the UK passed away. As a long time admirer of the former Chief Rabbi of England and as someone who listens to many of his podcasts, reads his weekly emails and has heard him speak in person, I was very upset at his untimely passing.

Through his writings and teachings, I felt like I had come to know him, and I like so many others, had been profoundly touched and inspired by his teachings, and I am still absorbing the shock of his passing.

As I processed my emotions on Saturday night, I told my children let's take down one of the books that he wrote from the bookshelf and learn a teaching. I took down his book "To Heal a Fractured World" and we read together a moving teaching about overcoming challenges and tragedy.

Friday as we entered Shabbos, Rabbi Dovid Feinstien, another famous Rabbi passed away. While I didn't know him personally, I have read and am familiar with many teachings of his father, the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstien. Then too, at our family Shabbat table, I took down a scholarly book on Jewish Law, which is known as the Igrot Moshe, a book full of teachings by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, and we read some of his legal teachings and how he explained his ideas, and in doing so paid tribute to his son who just passed away.

As I reflected on the passing of these two great leaders and thought about Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, another Rabbi whose teachings I love, who passed away just a few months ago, I thought about the profound impact they each had in their own unique way.

None of them impacted the world through politics, power or money, yet they all dramatically impacted and inspired so many others through ideas and values. Through the teachings of Torah and Judaism that they studied and taught so much of, these leaders highlighted the true staying power of our heritage and what can truly make a lasting impact on society, which is the teachings of the Torah and what they represent to humanity.

In a world that is often fractured with political and other discord, and when all too often the wrong noises are what we hear most, it was a poignant reminder to me, that our true strength and ability to grow and better the world, does not come from politics, battles and brute force, but instead it comes from learning and studying the rich heritage, morality and values with which we have been entrusted, and then by trying hard to live up to the ideals that we absorb and discover.

Indeed it is in this week's Torah portion, when we learn and are taught the idea, that in a certain way, finite life can become infinite life. This idea is taught through Sarah who the portion is named after, whose legacy and impact transcended her life, due to the fact that the focus of her life and accomplishments during her lifetime, was on timeless and meaningful things that were not limited and simply passing moments that were gone with the wind.

Indeed, the passing of Rabbi Sacks along with the message of the portion, remind me, that each and every moment in life is a priceless gift with tremendous or miniscule potential. Our choices in how how to use this moment are what determine and what make this moment finite or infinite. Will this moment be life changing, life improving, and make a difference to the world and become bound up in infinity, or will it simply disappear with the wind.

May we be inspired by the memory of these scholars and teachers and remember to appreciate the beauty and power of Torah and its ideas.

If you have a few minutes please watch this powerful message shared by Rabbi Sacks.

Good Shabbos & Shabbat Shalom to all.

Yisroel

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