In this week’s column I’d like to share with you an excerpt from my sermon I delivered last Friday. The sermon was about the powerful dictum of Parashat KiTeitzei, wich asks us not to remain indifferent — “Lo tuchal le’hitalem“.
Lo tuchal le’hitalem – you shall not remain indifferent – it is an in-your-face moral and ethical requirement, taking us further into our humanity, reminding us that however practical Judaism is, however much a religion of doing, the doing is based on our shared humanity, our striving to reach a fuller and richer knowledge of our Source. Judaism is not only about what one does and doesn’t do. It is more than what rituals one keeps, or at what time one separates Shabbat from the rest of the week. It isn’t lived only on a spiritual plane nor exclusively in the material world but it is rooted in the ethical and the moral.
Of course, I mention this imperative of the Torah in the light of the political discussions we have in South Africa currently. The despicable acts towards women, the xenophobic attacks, the general outlook on the value of a human life that seems to become less and less of value to many – all this needs our attention. We cannot pretend not to see what is happening. We cannot hide ourselves or be indifferent to our surroundings, however inconvenient it might be and we have to respond to them – because it is a essentially Jewish requirement.
Lo tuchal lehitalem- you shall not hide yourself; you shall not be indifferent. We are not permitted to look the other way, to continue with our lives as routinely as before. Hiding the truth from ourselves and not acting to help others is a direct prohibition..
May we all, in the final days of this current Jewish year find ways to bring holiness into this—our—world, by stepping out of our comfort zone and into actions of meaning.
Rabbi Adrian M Schell