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he would have been 92

01/13/2022 08:38:38 AM

Jan13

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

This coming Monday would have been Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 92 birthday. As we read and hear of more and more H, I feel his loss ever more profoundly.

Each of us has our own private list of people that we consider heroes, although sometimes what qualifies as a hero is different from one person to the next. Within my list of heroes, I have a category of faith leaders, and on top of that list is Dr. King. Many might wonder why would a Rabbi have Dr. King on top of his list, and no other Rabbis? Am I just pandering to a particular audience? I can instantly respond to that question with a resounding no. What I will do instead is explain why this is so, and why Dr. King belongs on the top of all of our lists.

If we go back in time to the days of Biblical prophets of Israel, we encounter the prophet Amos 2800 years ago, and the prophet Micah 2700 years ago. Their roles were to hear the words of God, and speak them to the people. Most times their words were words of rebuke, as they chastised the people for turning away from God’s path, for ignoring the stranger, the widow, the orphan and the poor. The power of their words continue to hold sway over many people of faith to this day.

If ever there was a modern-day prophet, it was Dr. King. He heard the word of God and felt the spirit of Micah and Amos flow through him, and he bravely stood and addressed how we had turned from God’s path. He championed the needs of his people when no one else dared to do so, and alas, on April 4, 1968, he paid dearly for his honesty, and in some regard, America has never recovered.

Where are the modern-day prophets who stand at the Lincoln Memorial today to call out injustice? Where are the people demanding civil discourse? Where are the leaders modeling how we must work together to begin to realize the promise that can be America?

No one could fill Dr. King’s shoes, and so no one ever has, and America has suffered mightily from the lack of a strong moral voice calling out injustice. But Dr. King showed us a path, and he left us an inheritance of words that must move us to action, for if we remain unmoved, then we have failed him.

I sometime wonder what Dr. King would say today on his 92 birthday. I have a feeling that we are not where we should be for there was so much more that he could have accomplished. I would think that the best way to honor Dr. King on his birthday is to reread his words, seek out partners, and work together to realize his dreams. We have a saying in the Talmud that is appropriate at this time: You do not have to finish the work, but you are not absolved from trying. Let us recommit to trying harder, to make Dr. King proud, so that he can smile down approvingly from heaven.

May the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., always be for a blessing.

 

Sat, January 29 2022 27 Shevat 5782