friday, sepTember 17, 2010 .
letters to the editor the rabbi’s turn
Write a letter to the editor: W w v fm ! o g wg f www.jw./x.?/_g.m, m xm 350 w. t f x sm 22. F m f .
“Every Rosh Hashanah I’ll be thinking about the birth and what the experience was like.” — Jessica Pearlman, the mother o the frst Jewish baby o 5771
“To judge between good or bad, between successful and unsuccessful, would take the eyeof a God.”
— Anton ChekhovEveryone knows the story o David and Goliath. Buthow many people know thatthe diference between theseamous rivals can be traced toone point o origin and onecritical, dening moment?David and Goliath were actually thirdcousins; descendants o Moabite sistersnamed Ruth and Orpah, who married thesons o Elimelech and Naomi, Israeliteswho had ed the city o Bethlehem duringa amine. When Elimelech and his sonsdied prematurely, Naomi decided to returnto Israel, insisting her daughters-in-lawremain with their own people. But in a tre-mendous display o loyalty, both womenignored Naomi’s attempts to push themaway until, at the story’s climax, Orpah gavein, kissed her mother-in-law, and returnedhome. Ruth accompanied Naomi to Israel,where she married and eventually producedDavid. Orpah went on to produce Goliath.Te storyline is striking. Why shouldOrpah, who came within a hair’s breadth o making the same choice as her sister, pro-duce Goliath, the antithesis o David? Ouroral tradition provides the missing link: Tatnight, while Ruth was ollowing Naomi,Orpah lay with one hundred men. Goliathwas the product o this promiscuity. (RuthRabba – 2:20) But the question remains:How could Orpah all so ar so ast?I believe Orpah realized she had missedan opportunity to achieve greatness. Butinstead o owning her mistake and movingon, she crossed into sel-judgment, deem-ing hersel unworthy. Instead o recogniz-ing her momentary ailure to live up to herpotential, she chose to dene and limit herpotential altogether, turning disappoint-ment into despair and devastation.So what do David and Goliath have todo with Rosh Hashanah? According toour tradition, Rosh Hashanah — the awe-some Day o Judgment — ushers in the10 days o
(literally “return”),a time when people examine their waysand improve themselves. Tis is why it’simportant, now more than ever, to empha-size that Judgment is God’s job, not ours.Yes, I’m amiliar with the adage that weshouldn’t judge a person until we’ve stoodin their shoes, which seems to imply thatit’s okay to judge ourselves. Nevertheless, Ibeg to disagree or a couple o reasons.First, even when we’re aware o ouractions and motivations, we usually lack the big picture. We experience lie in rag-ments o time, and we viewthose ragments rom way tooclose a vantage point: Even i we could recall every detail o our lives, we would still lack the necessary objectivity toput them into context. We arerarely capable o viewing our-selves without distortion.But there’s a more un-damental reason why sel- judgment is not an option, even when weaccurately identiy our aws: We cannotevaluate our lives and live our lives at thesame time. Sel-judgment removes us romlie. Tis is not to say we shouldn’t be mind-ul o how we live. It’s just that there’s a hugediference between mindulness and sel- judgment. In act, they tend to conict.ake a look at what you’re passionateabout and you’ll see the diference. One o my avorite extracurricular activities is mar-tial arts. I love how it combines a great work-out with mastery o a skill and sel-perection.o become procient, I must be constantly mindul, ocusing on the smallest details asI work the same orms over and over again.For me, this is what makes the processes bothengaging and un — that is, until I see some-one who is better than me and decide that I’llnever be any good. Te moment I ocus onmysel, I cease being mindul o the process,and the activity that had just moments beorebeen a source o pleasure now leaves me eel-ing demoralized.It’s easy or me to slip into sel-judg-ment, and my work as a coach tells me I amnot alone. Most o my clients tend to judgethemselves harshly, which oten leavesthem carrying a heavy burden o negativ-ity, depression, and disempowering beliesthat they’re sometimes not even awareo. I recently met a woman who regularly beat hersel up over her tendency to worry because she knew it was silly and coun-terproductive. Sadly, she thought her sel-criticism was a mitzvah, her only chance tochange. But the truth is that her inability tolovingly accept her aws was the single big-gest impediment to her growth.On Rosh Hashanah, a snapshot is takeno our lie and the question is asked: Whathave we become and where are we head-ing? It’s not our job to take that snapshot.Nor are we meant to eel in any way lim-ited by it. Rather, that snapshot is meantto inspire us to do more with our lives. It’smeant to ll us with excitement and joy,not negativity. But most o all, it’s meant tomake us more mindul o the greatest giwe will ever possess — the gi o lie.Wishing you a sweet and meaningulNew Year!
Thi High Hoidy on,v th judgmnt to God
Rabbi MaRk SpiRo
the adl responds
Recently “Blatant Discrimination” (Letters, Sept. 3) totally mischaracterized ADL’s posi-tion on the proposed NY Islamic center. From the start ADL stated that the consortium hasevery right to build in the location they own and have chosen. ADL leads in the effort toprotect religious freedom in America, always and in this instance.The center’s organizers viewed their proposed location as helping to promote healing.ADL thought this goal might be undermined by the location. We did not “take a lead role in
ghting against this center.” We asked a question regarding the effectiveness of the con
-sortium’s choice.Good people can disagree, but this issue has fallen prey to ideologues on all sides. Forsome it has been an opportunity to smear all Muslims and Islam. ADL condemns suchappeals to bigotry as un-American and wrong. Others have used this occasion to label all
who questioned the center as bigots or supporters of bigotry. This too is demagoguery, andthe enemy of dialogue and reection.The ADL has never “equated all Muslims with the terrorists responsible for the Trade
Center disaster” and would never do so. In fact, ADL has consistently spoken out for theprotection of Muslim rights in America, and spearheads a consortium to champion therights of Muslim communities across the country to build their places of worship.Withdrawing support for ADL rejects the long history of ADL’s good work locally and
nationally. Our local Pacic Northwest ADL ofce investigates and exposes extremism, edu
-cates law enforcement, and handles victim complaints of anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. We lobby to protect civil rights and advocate for religious freedom. We pro-mote diversity and respect in schools with programs and resources to help create learningenvironments where all feel valued and appreciated.For the record, ADL is not a membership organization. Our donors contribute becausethey want to ensure that our community is safe and inclusive for all, regardless of race, reli-
gion, nationality, sexual orientation, or ability. They know they can count on ADL to pursue
this vision every day. We urge your readers to continue with us in supporting ADL.Thank you.
be careFul What you hope For
The following is a response to John Rothschild’s letter to the editor (Sept. 3) wherein he “urge[s] all members of the Jewish community to resign any membership that they havewith ADL.” Rothschild accuses the Anti-Defamation League of “stereotyping all Muslims asterrorists...[and] claiming that Muslims do not have a right to have a center near the TradeCenter.” Rothschild contends that now the ADL is “engaging in the worst kind of discrimi-nation, based on one’s religion.”
First, Rothschild is misinformed on ADL’s stance. In “The Mosque at Ground Zero,” ADL’s national director Abraham H. Foxman describes ADL’s position: “Ultimately, this was not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our
judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center wouldunnecessarily cause some victims more pain. And that wasn’t right. Shortly after the 9/11terrorist attacks, Muslims were being stereotyped and in some cases individual Muslims orMuslim institutions were attacked. ADL took the lead in not standing idly by. We took outads in The New York Times and other newspapers with the headline, ‘Don’t Fight Hate withHate.’ Our message was that a terrible event occurred on 9/11, a national tragedy brought
on by hate, but the way to deal with it was to ght the terrorists, and not to stereotype andhate individual Muslims” (Hufngton Post, posted 8/2/10).To Mr. Rothschild: It is one thing to ask those who agree with you to write letters con
-demning the ADL. However, it is far different to blatantly misrepresent ADL’s stance andto advocate for its termination.For decades, ADL had defended the rights of minorities in this country. ADL has taughtgenerations the true facts of the Holocaust. ADL continuesto be a champion of rights on all fronts.
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