Religious : : Thoughts from Our Rabbi

A woman once came to a real estate agent to buy a home. He showed her a variety of properties but she was never satisfied – one was too large, another too small; one was the wrong design, another in the wrong neighborhood. No matter where they went, the woman had a reason as to why the property would not work. Finally, completely exasperated, the agent said, “Madam, why do you need a home? You were born in a
hospital, educated in a school building, courted in an automobile, and married in a house of God. You eat at restaurants, out of freezers & cans. You spend your mornings at the club, your afternoons at the bridge table and your evening out. Seems to me that all you really need is a garage.” There is a great deal of social satire here yet people need a home as a place of shelter, if they are lucky, a haven of happy living – whether it be in a crude cave or under a fancy roof, – yet live somewhere, we must. No matter what our choice of living quarters, we really live in glass houses / we are all people in glass houses.

Our Talmud states, “A man should always pray in a house that has windows.” By this, it implies we are never alone in the world and in whatever we do or we say, we must face others; we must face the world. We are always in a glass house, where we are always seen and where if we throw stones, we must be prepared for stones to be thrown back at us. A real understanding of this important principle in living is basic and vital to our very existence – to our very life.

The most abused word in the English language is “Love.” We say “God is love” yet we also love ice cream, our cars, our favorite drink. We hear the words: honey, darling, doll thrown about indiscriminately by people, to people whom they have never met before. Obviously, people don’t feel the affection they speak. They only pretend.

We simply do not understand that we live in glass houses with reference to love. If there is a lack of love in the world today, it is because we think in terms of being loved, rather than in terms of loving.. We have lost the perception that real love is active and not passive. A picture may be admired for its beauty, yet it is still only a picture because a picture cannot admire others. A statue may be adored for its exquisite shape, yet it always only remains a cold slab of inert marble because it cannot adore others. People may be of striking beauty, yet they will never be loved, until they begin to love others. “Handsome is as handsome does.” The emphasis is on doing – on love as a moving creative force.

In today’s society where there is so much bias and divisiveness, we must be concerned about helping others. We must find positive constructive ways to relieve some of the hurt and sorrow. Our Torah text speaks of these concerns – the concern for the welfare of the vulnerable people in our midst and our responsibility to them. Our Torah reminds us it is through pure love – we can make a difference in so many lives. It is often in an hour of trial and tribulation that we also reveal our true selves: While at a house of mourning, some sit around and moan with the mourners, others help prepare a meal. During the tense days before a wedding or simcha, some so-called friends will “needle” the family with sharp reminders of whom they forgot to invite, while others offer to go to the airport to pick up guest. During a lengthy illness, some people come to call just to commiserate and have an opportunity to tell about their own illnesses & operations, while others offer to take the children out of the house for the day, to do shopping, to act like real people, concerned for real people.

There is so much man-made misery in the world, one begins to hunger for a little considerateness and a little patience. RABBI HERSCHEL LEIBOIWITZ writes saying: Maybe I once liked clever people, yet I have come to prefer a different type of person; my tastes have changed & I now like Good People; people who think in terms of loving.

As the holidays approach, may we take this time to contemplate — ways we can spread more love into this shattered world. May we join together to help the less fortunate, the sick, the homeless and the lonely among us. For if we do, we may find that loving others will often fill the void we sometimes feel when we yearn to be loved.

L’shana tova tikateivu v’tikchateimu,
may we be written & sealed for only good, Rabbi Dennis