Wow! What an exhausting couple of weeks this is for our Jewish people. We go through the emotional high of being freed from slavery to the lowest moment in our people's history on Yom HaShoah, remembering the six million, followed a week later byYom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day for all of its fallen soldiers, and then finished off the very next day with Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. The range of emotions is emotionally draining.
I was honored to be at the community Yom HaShoah commemoration last week in addition to our inspiring trip to the Houston Holocaust Museum onYom HaShoah (in spite of the bus trouble on the way back). I was inspired to be a part of the community commemoration and celebration for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'Atzmaut two days ago.
Our support for the State of Israel is needed now more than ever before.
In our Torah portion this week, we learn about the metzora, the leper. TheTalmud (Arachin 15b) takes a different slant. Reish Lakish (one of the most colorful personalities in the Talmud) said: "Do not [only] read the verse 'leper' (metzora), rather also read the verse to mean 'slanderer' (motzi shem rah)." With this statement, the Talmud drew a direct link between the tzara'at, described in the Torah, and slanderous speech. In the very first passage of the book Chofetz Chaim, the magnum opus of Rabbi Israel Meir Hakohen Kagan, who came to be known as The Chofetz Chaim, he states, "It is forbidden to speak disparagingly of one's friend. Even if the information is entirely truthful, it is called lashon hara. If the information also contains any fabrication, it is also called motzi shem ra (lit. 'putting out a bad name')." While we take great care to choose our words carefully lest we malign our fellow man with our speech, the world seems devoted to using speech to malign the Jewish state, especially on college campuses.
I was shocked to learn about the anti-Israel and certainly anti-Semitic motion brought to the Student Government Association at the University of Texas proposing the University's endowment divest itself from multi-national companies that "trade" with Israel. Thankfully, 17 former student body presidents mobilized and a large crowd of protesters came the night of the vote, and the resolution was defeated. This comes on the heels of incidents at UCLA and Stanford where students who were appointed to positions in the student governments were assailed for being Jewish and told that they could not be unbiased in their positions because they are Jewish.
What we must learn from this past days of Yom Hashoah through Yom Ha'Atzmaut is that when we say "Never Again" we must mean it. We must continue to stand up and fight for Israel and the Jewish people as a whole so that what happened 70 years ago does not ever happen again.
Am Yisrael Chai and Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham