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01/10/2020 11:34:23 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

The AJC had a lovely idea when they named Monday, January 6, 2020, as “Jewish Pride Day”. Coming in response to the seemingly non-stop anti-Semitic violence in the greater New York area culminating in the attack in a Rabbi’s home in Monsey, it created a moment where safety in numbers was a powerful, uplifting event. Then everyone went home. What happened to the pride? Is it still there?

We must be proud to be Jewish every single day of the year, but anti-Semitic acts cannot be the impetus to do so. They can provide further encouragement perhaps, but not be the sole cause. We learn from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 4:2: Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah – one mitzvah generates another. For example, when we perform an act that improves the life of someone else, and experience not only the joy of the recipient but a feeling of satisfaction from having done so, it is likely that we will do more. However, the remainder of the quote is equally true: Aveirah Goreret Aveirah – a transgression generates another.

There are people who perform acts of evil, and that feeds them to do more. In the end, the H word will corrode from the inside out, as this negative trajectory is difficult to brake if not cease totally. A positive trajectory creates momentum to seek out additional opportunities. If it feels good, we do more. The imperative to make the world a better place compels us daily to seek out ways to fulfill that mandate. Those ways are the mitzvot, and by doing so, we share what is beautiful about Judaism. When a fellow Jew performs a mitzvah that achieves some sort of renown, do you feel pride that a “member of the Tribe” acted in such a way?

Our pride in our Judaism must fuel all that we think and do on a daily basis. It not only provides a framework to live a good life, but it demands that we become the best possible self that we can be. The performance of mitzvot improves the lot of our fellow citizens, and demonstrates that despite the H speech that some spew, their vitriol does not tell the story of what Judaism is about. We must not perform mitzvot to counter these attacks or convince people of the beauty of Judaism. We must perform mitzvot because that is what God asks of us: make the world a better place. Make every day Jewish pride day. Make the world a better place, and do so proudly.

Mon, August 2 2021 24 Av 5781