1

!"# %&''() *+,-&-. /00/
12, 3,4)5 %-"678 92: 9, ;" 52, 12&-.7 9, ;"

1he summer LhaL only recenLly ended has been an excruclaLlng few monLhs. Whlle Lhe weaLher
was nearly perfecL we waLched Lhe world sllp lnLo chaos. 1o name buL a few of Lhe Lraglc
evenLs Lhere was Lhe shooLlng down of Lhe Malayslan alrllner over Lhe ukralne, Lhe unchecked
Lerror of Lhe Lbola vlrus, Lhe raclal rloLs ln my homeLown of SL. Louls and Lhe anLlsemlLlc mob
hysLerla ln Lurope, Lhe war beLween lsrael and Pamas and Lhe rampaglng desLrucLlon of lSlS.
As lSlS rapes and murders lLs way across Syrla and lraq, a few WesLerners were caughL up ln lLs
paLh. SLeven SoLloff was such a man. Pe was gruesomely murdered on SepLember 2
nd
. Pe was
kldnapped a year earller.

MosL people dld noL know unLll some Llme afLer hls deaLh LhaL noL only was he !ewlsh, buL
lsraell. Pe made allya Lo lsrael ln 2003. ln a leLLer wrlLLen ln May and smuggled ouL Lo hls
parenLs, he wroLe, ºÞlease know LhaL l'm ok. Llve your llfe Lo Lhe fullesL and flghL Lo be happy.
Lveryone of us has Lwo llves. 1he second one beglns when you reallze you only have one." 1he
second one beglns when you reallze you only have one. 1haL ls whaL l would llke Lo explore on
Lhls ?om klppur. noL Lhe evlls LhaL surround us buL lnsLead Lhe moLlvaLlon for good LhaL can
emerge from each of us. We can learn much when lL blossoms forLh especlally from a young
man held ln capLlvlLy. lf we are Lo confronL Lhls evll, parL of Lhe answer musL cerLalnly be LhaL
we can pledge Lo do good. Pow can we make dolng good more of our everyday llves? 1he
oLher plece ls of course LhaL our leaders, mosL especlally ÞresldenL Cbama, musL flghL Lo keep
Lhe evlls such as lSlS ln check. lL seems clear LhaL our presldenL now undersLands LhaL reason
alone cannoL bend Lhe arc of hlsLory. More abouL LhaL Lomorrow mornlng. 1hls evenlng l wanL
Lo Lalk abouL us and Lhe moLlvaLlon Lo do good. l wlsh Lo ask, where can hope be found?

Þeople do noL know Lhls buL Lhe reason we remalned unaware of SLeve SoLloff's !ewlsh ldenLlLy
ls LhaL soon afLer hls capLure, some 130 of hls frlends scrubbed hls onllne ldenLlLy removlng all
menLlon of hls belng !ewlsh or lsraell. l have been Lhlnklng abouL Lhese unnamed frlends Lhls
pasL monLh. l admlL, someLlmes lL ls hard Lo do so amldsL Lhe chaos and desLrucLlon, buL LhaL ls
whaL l wlsh Lo dwell on. Why dld Lhey do Lhls? Why dld Lhey devoLe Lhemselves Lo Lhls Lask,
spendlng counLless hours scourlng Lhe web? lL was because SLeve was Lhelr frlend and Lhey
wanLed Lo do whaLever Lhey could Lo save hls llfe. Lven Lhough Lhelr efforLs proved
unsuccessful l draw hope from Lhelr moLlvaLlon. l am sLlrred by Lhelr acLlons. 1he 1almud
counsels: ºWhoever desLroys a soul, lL ls consldered as lf he desLroyed an enLlre world. And
whoever saves a llfe, lL ls consldered as lf he saved an enLlre world." !"#$%&'()#( +#&,-./
0#(12.3)( 45#6 lL was worLh Lhe hours. lL was as lf Lhe enLlre world resLed ln Lhelr hands, and
depended on Lhelr efforLs. lrlendshlp calls us Lo acLlon. We wlll run ln charlLy evenLs for
frlends. We wlll volunLeer for boards because frlends ask us. We wlll slL ln fronL of our
compuLer screens hoplng and praylng LhaL our efforLs mlghL save a llfe.

2
1hen agaln l am appalled LhaL Lhe mere menLlon of a person's !ewlsh ldenLlLy would furLher
endanger hlm. We have seemlngly moved backward ln Llme. ls lL posslble LhaL publlcly
declarlng one's !ewlsh ldenLlLy mlghL once agaln mark someone for deaLh? 1he world appears
as lf lL ls propelllng back Loward medleval Llmes? 1hen agaln, can an ldenLlLy be erased? lL was
reporLed LhaL durlng SLeve SaLloff's capLlvlLy he wenL Lo greaL lengLhs Lo observe hls !ewlsh
LradlLlons, secreLly fasLlng on ?om klppur and surrepLlLlously praylng Lowards !erusalem. 1he
second llfe beglns only one you reallze you have one. WhaL courage! WhaL lnsplraLlon! WhaL
moLlvaLlon.

Many of us parLlclpaLed ln Lhe recenL ALS lce buckeL challenge. Why dld we pour lce cold waLer
over our heads? 8ecause our frlends asked us Lo. Cr more exacLly because our frlends ca[oled
us Lo do so by publlcly challenglng us. 1he ALS foundaLlon ralsed over $60 mllllon. l haLe Lo be
a cynlc on Lhls our mosL holy of days buL how many people poured lce waLer over Lhelr heads
for Lhe enLerLalnmenL of Lhelr frlends, and Lhe appearance of dolng good, buL never senL ln a
donaLlon and how many quleLly made a donaLlon Lo Lhe ALS loundaLlon buL never dld anyLhlng
wlLh lce waLer excepL Lo drlnk lL on Lhe warmesL of days? Whlch acL ls more worLhy? 1he
unheralded donaLlon or Lhe publlc pronouncemenLs? 1here ls noLhlng of course wrong wlLh
Lhe lce buckeL challenge as long as lL leads Lo Lhe good of glvlng Lzedakah. 1he lce buckeL
challenge ls noL a good unLo lLself, excepL perhaps ln how lL lncreased awareness abouL ALS. Cf
course one could argue LhaL ln an age of llmlLed resources Lhls popularlzed challenge
sldeLracked resources from oLher worLhy charlLles. So l challenge you LhaL lf you parLlclpaLed ln
Lhe lce buckeL challenge and gave Lo Lhe ALS foundaLlon for Lhe flrsL Llme Lhen be sure LhaL Lhls
does noL dlverL you away from your oLher Lzedakah commlLmenLs. l conLlnue Lo wonder abouL
why we do whaL we do. SomeLlmes we glve because we wanL Lo, and oLher Llmes we glve
because frlends ca[ole us. SomeLlmes we glve because we are Lold Lo, and oLher Llmes we glve
because our hearL lnsplres us. !udalsm Leaches LhaL Lhe acL ls more lmporLanL Lhan Lhe
lnsplraLlon, LhaL a good deed redeems even Lhe basesL of moLlvaLlons.

1hls ls why Lhe LradlLlon glves us a llsL of commandmenLs and noL a code of feellngs. vlrLue ls
noL found ln moLlvaLlon, buL acLlon. 1rue Lhe lnner lnLenLlon, Lhe kavvanah, can help Lo lnsplre
acLlon, buL lL musL never come Lo replace Lhe deed. Pow do we know whaL ls rlghL? We
consulL our LradlLlon. As 8eform !ews we belleve LhaL our lnherlLed LradlLlon musL always have
a volce, buL never a veLo. We also explore Lhls paLh ln Lhe conLexL of communlLy. 1he group ls
Lhe correcLlve Lo lndlvldual wanLs and deslres. 1hls ls why our ldeal prayers are sald wlLh
oLhers. We are more apL Lo ask for Lhe rlghL Lhlng when sLandlng wlLh oLhers. We look Lo our
rlghL and Lo our lefL, and see, for example, Lhe paln of oLhers, and Lhen dlscover LhaL our
mundane goals of a new, larger house mlghL noL be as lmporLanL as Lhelr resLored healLh. We
even recounL our slns wlLh oLhers. Cn Lhls day, we say ºlor Lhe sln we have commlLLed." lL ls
noL LhaL we belleve LhaL every one of us dld every one of Lhese wrongs buL lnsLead LhaL we are
sLrengLhened by our [olnL words. We galn courage Lo repalr our llves and mend our ways by
3
aLLachlng our words Lo our nelghbors'. 1he LradlLlon offers us a paLh. lL glves us a road ln whlch
Lo locaLe ourselves. We walk LogeLher.

Why? So LhaL we mlghL add a measure of good Lo Lhe world. l admlL, someLlmes we do Lhlngs
for Lhe sake of a reward. Þeople llke posLlng plcLures and vldeos of Lhemselves. Þeople llke Lhe
accolades and approvals of oLhers. uo you know LhaL Lhere are only Lwo commandmenLs ln Lhe
enLlre 1orah ln whlch a reward ls aLLached Lo Lhem, speclflcally Lhe reward of a long llfe? 1hey
are: #1. Ponor your faLher and moLher. 1he 1orah sLaLes: ºPonor your faLher and moLher LhaL
you may long endure on Lhe land LhaL Lhe Lord your Cod ls asslgnlng Lo you." !78'.-9 :;<=:6 #2.
ºlf, along Lhe road, you chance upon a blrd's nesL, ln any Lree or on Lhe ground, wlLh fledgllngs
or eggs and Lhe moLher slLLlng over Lhe fledgllngs or on Lhe eggs, do noL Lake Lhe moLher
LogeLher wlLh your young. LeL Lhe moLher go, and Lake only Lhe young, ln order LhaL you fare
well and a have a long llfe." !>2-?23'(',% ::<@A56

l have ofLen wondered abouL Lhese mlLzvoL. Why are Lhey so lmporLanL LhaL Lhey only offer Lhe
promlse of reward? l wonder noL so much abouL Lhe honorlng parenLs so much as Lhe blrd's
nesL. 1he commenLaLors ask whaL ls Lhe connecLlon beLween Lhese Lwo commands. 1hey draw
a connecLlon beLween Lhe facL LhaL boLh commandmenLs deal wlLh Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween
parenLs and chlldren. We are commanded Lo show compasslon Lo parenLs. Love ls noL
commanded, buL care. 1here ls anoLher connecLlon. More ofLen Lhan noL no one knows lf you
observe Lhese commandmenLs or noL. l know LhaL Lhls ls noL so llkely, buL lL you were Lo
happen upon a blrd's nesL, perhaps a wounded anlmal, do you look Lo your rlghL or lefL Lo see lf
anyone ls waLchlng or do you look above and recall Cod's commands? 8ehlnd closed doors,
when, for example, your moLher or faLher are slck and ln need of care, or perhaps lf you are
younger when Lhey dlsclpllne you, do you speak Lo Lhem wlLh words of compasslon or of
frusLraLlon? lL ls noL an easy mlLzvah, buL LhaL ls exacLly why lL ls a command.

no one knows lf you were klnd Lo an anlmal. 1hey cannoL speak. 1hey cannoL reporL on you.
And Lhls ls why Lhere ls a reward aLLached. ln Lhe quleL of your homes, amldsL Lhe humdrum of
dally llfe, l challenge you Lo honor your faLher and moLher. 1ake up LhaL challenge. Show
concern for even Lhe anlmals LhaL surround us. 1haL would be buL Lwo more measures of good
added Lo our world. Long llfe perhaps. Cood mosL cerLalnly.

1hen agaln we care deeply abouL whaL oLhers Lhlnk. Pow else can one explaln Lhe near frenzy
wlLh whlch Lhe lce buckeL challenge raced LhroughouL Lhe counLry? Are such communal
expecLaLlons and pressures really so bad? Some of us had Lhe pleasure of examlnlng a beauLlful
sLory on Lhe second day of 8osh Pashanah. lL ls found ln Lhe 1almud ?erushalml and ls Lhe
sLory of Shlmon ben SheLah. !B23-9#&2, +#&,-./ "#C# D2?E)# F#6 Pere ls my rendlLlon of LhaL
sLory. 8abbl Shlmon ben SheLah Lraded ln coLLon. (lL ls a modern lnnovaLlon for rabbls Lo be
pald as full Llme rabbls. ln anclenL Llmes Lhey supporLed Lhelr famllles wlLh Lhelr Lrades.) Pls
sLudenLs loved hlm so much LhaL Lhey sald, ºMasLer, leL us buy you a donkey so you won'L have
4
Lo work so hard. 1hen you can spend more Llme Leachlng us." 1hey wenL and boughL hlm a
donkey from a nelghbor, from someone who was noL !ewlsh. Lo and behold, Lhey found on Lhe
donkey a preclous sLone. 1hey ran Lo Lhelr Leacher and exclalmed, ºnow you won'L have Lo
work aL all." Shlmon asked Lhem, ºuoes Lhe owner know of your dlscovery?" 1hey sald, ºno."
1helr Leacher admonlshed hlm, ºCo and reLurn lL." 1hey argued, º8uL we dld noL sLeal Lhe
sLone. We boughL Lhe donkey for a falr prlce. 1he law allows us Lo keep Lhe donkey and
anyLhlng we flnd on lL." Some even argued, º8esldes we boughL lL from a non-!ew." When
hearlng Lhls, Shlmon became enraged and shouLed, ºuo you Lhlnk l am a barbarlan? l would
raLher hear, '8lessed be Lhe Cod of Lhe !ews' Lo all Lhe rlches of Lhe world!"

1oo ofLen ln our own age we dlscounL Lhe oplnlons of oLhers. ºuo whaL you Lhlnk ls rlghL? As
long as you are happy lL ls ok." are our manLras. Shlmon ben SheLah re[ecLs Lhls. lL does maLLer
whaL Lhe world Lhlnks. lL does maLLer whaL oLhers Lhlnk. We cannoL [usL say, ºWhaL's falr ls
falr. As long as lL ls legal ls good enough for me." 1hls rabbl's deslre was Lo brlng more people
Lo !udalsm. 1haL demanded of hlm an even hlgher sLandard, a more scrupulous code. Pe
belleved LhaL hls acLlons musL brlng pralse Lo Lhe LradlLlon he so loves. Pe lmaglned LhaL
people would look aL whaL he does each and every day and exclalm, º8lessed be Lhe Cod of Lhe
!ews." lmaglne for a momenL whaL Lhe world mlghL look llke lf we paused and asked ourselves,
ºWlll Lhls brlng blesslngs Lo my falLh, pralse Lo my people and honor Lo my famlly?" lmaglne for
a momenL how fllled wlLh peace our world mlghL be, and especlally Lhe Mlddle LasL, lf every
person who professes a deep falLh, lf people who proclalmed Lhemselves Lo be rellglous, were
Lo ask, ºWlll Lhls brlng honor Lo my rellglon?" 1here ls more Lo llfe Lhan ºuo whaL you Lhlnk ls
rlghL." Ask lnsLead, ºWlll Lhls brlng honor Lo !udalsm? Wlll Lhls add merlL Lo Lhe !ewlsh
people?" l am glven Lo such dreams.

Many people have asked me abouL Lhls summer's Lrlp Lo lsrael. 1hey ask me lf lL was hard Lo be
Lhere for Lhe sLarL of Lhe war. 1o be honesL lL ls noL Lhe flrsL Llme LhaL l was ln lsrael durlng a
war, alLhough please Cod may lL be Lhe lasL Llme. l dld leave before Lhe sLarL of Lhe ground war
when Lhe lsraell psyche shlfLs so percepLlbly. 1hey ask me whaL lL was llke Lo have Lo run Lo a
bomb shelLer. 1hey search for paln ln my answers. 1hey ask me, ºWhaL was Lhe mosL dlfflculL
momenL?" 1hey are ofLen surprlsed Lo flnd ouL LhaL Lhe mosL dlfflculL momenL was noL even
Lhe dlscovery Lhree boys' bodles, z"l. 1helr kldnapplng and murder by Pamas was Lhe
beglnnlng of Lhls summer's hosLlllLles. 1haL day was lndeed a Lraglc day. And yeL Lhe mosL
palnful momenL was lnsLead Lhe dlscovery of Lhe young Arab boy's body and Lhe reallzaLlon,
whlch l shared wlLh Lhe ma[orlLy of lsraells and !ews, LhaL hls murderer was also a !ew. 1he
pollce soon capLured Lhe perpeLraLor and l recall Lhe lmage on my 1v screen as he was led away
ln handcuffs. Pe covered hls face. And l shouLed aL Lhe 1v, ºCover your LzlLzlL. 1ake off your
klppah. ?ou barbarlan!" l conLlnue Lo dream. Wlll my acLlons brlng honor Lo my falLh?

All of Lhese young boys were burled wlLh Lears and accompanled Lo Lhelr flnal resLlng places
wlLh shouLs of paln. Some of my frlends vlslLed Lhe mournlng LenL of Mohammed's famlly. l
3
recall Lhe funeral for Lhe Lhree !ewlsh boys: Cllad, nafLall and Lyal. nafLall's moLher, 8achel,
spoke aL Lhe funeral. She sald. º8esL ln peace, my chlld. We wlll learn Lo slng wlLhouL you. We
wlll always hear your volce ln our hearLs." l could noL begln Lo faLhom her courage. And so l
read more abouL 8achel lrankel. ApparenLly she ls a wldely admlred Leacher among CrLhodox
women. She ls a reasoned volce for women's parLlclpaLlon and lncluslon ln !ewlsh llfe.
Accordlng Lo LradlLlonal !ewlsh law a woman ls noL obllgaLed Lo say kaddlsh. She ls noL
requlred Lo observe poslLlve, Llme bound mlLzvoL, excepL of course Lhe llghLlng of ShabbaL
candles. She would noL lead publlc prayers ln a mlxed group of men and women because she ls
noL requlred Lo pray and so cannoL help carry a man's obllgaLory prayers. Such ls Lhe ldeology
of my more LradlLlonal breLhren. And Lhen l wlLnessed Lhe mosL remarkable of Lhlngs. Per
son's body was placed ln lLs grave. 1he momenL for kaddlsh arrlved. And 8uLh llfLed herself ouL
of her seaL and sLood and sald, º?lLgadal v'ylLkadash." wlLh a full volce. And Lhen an even
more remarkable Lhlng happened. lsrael's chlef rabbl, uavld Lau, sald, ºAmen."

l wonder. uld he forgeL hls ldeology? uld he lgnore hls bellefs? Þerhaps. l doubL he paused Lo
Lhlnk. Pls hearL sald Amen Lo her prayer of paln. Pow could he say anyLhlng buL Amen, l
belleve, l sLand wlLh you? ln an age fllled wlLh ldeologles of Lerror and deaLh, perhaps Lhe hearL
needs Lo Leach. l lmaglne LhaL many have forgoLLen abouL funerals. 1here have been far Loo
many slnce. And yeL Lhey remaln lmprlnLed on my soul. l lmaglne LhaL each of Lhese famllles
conLlnue Lo rellve Lhose days each and every momenL of Lhelr llves. uurlng a summer fllled
wlLh vlolence and bloodshed, murder and deaLh, Lhere was hope Lo be found ln one word:
Amen. Þerhaps Lhe hearL can rescue us. ?lLgadal v'ylLkadash. Magnlfled and sancLlfled ls Cod's
name. Amen. 1here ls hope ln one word. 1here ls hope ln frlends. 1he second llfe beglns
when you reallze you only have one.

1he propheL Lzeklel llved Lhrough exLraordlnarlly LumulLuous Llmes. Pe wlLnessed Lhe
desLrucLlon of Lhe 1emple and much of !erusalem by Lhe 8abylonlans ln Lhe slxLh cenLury 8CL.
Pe llved ln exlle and looked Lo Lhe land of lsrael from afar. Pls lnlLlal prophecles flll hls
conLemporarles wlLh vlvld lmages and sLern warnlngs. LaLer he preaches of a resLored and
renewed lsrael. Pe proclalms: ºl wlll glve you a new hearL and puL a new splrlL lnLo you: l wlll
remove Lhe hearL of sLone from your body and glve you a hearL of flesh." !7E2G)2& 4@<:@6
Þerhaps he ls sLlll rlghL. 1hls ls whaL ls requlred. Lev hadash, a new hearL, a hearL noL hardened
by ldeology and noL closed Lo Lhe paln of oLhers, a hearL LhaL ls no dlfferenL Lhan our nelghbors.
A new hearL. ?lLgadal v'ylLkadash. Magnlfled and sancLlfled may Cod's name be. Amen
v'amen.

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J%9?23 "#% B2I)91 M2(?23

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