Today is DAY FORTY-SIX, which makes SIX WEEKS and FOUR DAYS of the Omer.
Today we join all Americans in the observance of Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died while serving in the armed forces of the United States. They have our gratitude, and our prayers are with their loved ones, including members of our Kol Dorot community who have been touched by this unique type of loss.
As a moment of reflection, I invite you to read this brief prayer for Memorial Day.
As we saw demonstrated by the cover of the New York Times yesterday, the listing of individual names can be a powerful tool for communal remembrance. In that spirit I would also like to share this video of the Commander of Jewish War Veterans reading the names of all 58 Jewish Americans who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. May their memories be a blessing.
Torah for Today
— Rabbi Noah
As we approach Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, we are basing our day-by-day teachings on each of the Ten Commandments.
Commandment #6: "You shall not murder."
Out of all the Ten Commandments, this is the one people are generally most confident that they haven't broken. "No murdering...got it."
But not all of our commentators thought observing the Sixth Commandment is so simple. Moses Ibn Ezra (12th century Spain) explained "You shall not murder" to mean: "with your hand; or with your tongue to testify falsely to have him killed; ...or to purposely give bad counsel that you know will result in his being killed; or when a secret is known to you with which you can save him from death if you reveal it to him: if you don't reveal it, you are like a murderer."
For Ibn Ezra, not just physically killing, but also giving fatally bad advice or withholding life-saving information can be murder.
Don Isaac Abarbanel (15th century Portugal) has an even more expansive idea of "You shall not murder":
And this Commandment also includes to not withhold tzedakah from the poor.... "And your eye will look harshly on your impoverished brother and you will not give, and he will call out to God and you will bear sin" (Deut 16:9). For one who withholds tzedakah is a killer of poor people. ...And more: included in this Commandment, according to the Sages, is one who shames his friend about any defect in him or in his ancestors, or one who interferes with the work of his fellow and prevents his livelihood....
For Abarbanel, giving tzedakah (an important mitzvah that seems to be missing from the Ten Commandments) is actually required by "You shall not murder." And the Sages, who are deeply attuned to the pain of shame or embarrassment, elevate shaming to the level of murder as well.
I think it's safe to say that at any point in Jewish history, the number of literal, physical murderers has been small. But our tradition never lets words of Torah go to waste, especially not in the Ten Commandments. And there has never been a time when we DID NOT need the reminder to be diligent in matters of tzedakah and how we treat each other.
Show Us Your Cheesecake!
On Thursday night, in honor of Shavuot, we will be having a Dairy Recipe "Show and Tell." Make cheesecake! Make blintzes! A grilled cheese sandwich!
More details will be in tomorrow's email, but in case you need time to get ingredients, plan to make something fun and dairy for Thursday!