- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On February 12, 2021
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
Remember the children’s story about spreading false information? Someone heard something about another that wasn’t true but kept repeating it again and again and again. When that person tried to take it back, a wise teacher instructed him to take a feather pillow and shake out its contents. The person went to the top of a hill and shook that pillow so that the feathers floated up and away. With the pillow emptied, the teacher then instructed the person to gather all the feathers back into the pillow, every last one of them. But it was too late, the feathers had dispersed throughout the land.
That is what happens with lies and falsehoods, they ripple out into the universe and make it impossible to recapture and to contain their impact.
This week’s portion in the Torah understood the havoc of lies.
You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness: (Exodus 23:1)
Commentators tried to understand the meaning of “carry”. Rashi focused on the one who would hear it rather than the perpetrator of falsehoods. He saw it as a directive: “You must not accept false rumors.” Ibn Ezra was more expansive. “One must neither invent something false nor repeat something one is not sure about.” Another layer of commentary took a more literal understanding to add greater personal accountability. “You must not carry lies on your lips.”
These commentators and many more place responsibility on the ones who perpetuate lies and those who keep them going. They recognized that the Torah understood that each of us, whether we are citizens or leaders, office holders or followers, those with or without power, have the potential to send lies and falsehoods out into the universe with no ability to capture or contain the damage that may ensue.
A few verses later, the Torah emphasized the point:
Keep far from a false charge; do not bring death on those who are innocent and just, for I will not acquit the wrongdoer. (23:7)
There are those who may think they can escape from lies their lips accept, invent, repeat or carry, Over time, those lies maintain a haunting presence and challenge moral integrity into eternity. Those who spread falsehoods have the potential to create malevolence and perversity. Yet, even if a court acquits them, God does not.
May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, O God and to one another so that we may be worthy of praise.
- Join us tonight for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. Following the service, we will share another virtual oneg. We can pray together HERE on the Temple Israel website, or HERE on Zoom, or even HERE on TI’s Facebook page. Or, just find it all on the website www.tisrael.org/TogetherWithTI .
- Tonight at 5:00 p.m. our littlest congregants join for Tot Rock Shabbat. Join us on Zoom here
- Torah Study engages everyone. We start with a short Shabbat morning service at 9:00 a.m. with Torah reading and then launch into a provocative discussion. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom HERE. You can also watch HERE on Temple Israel’s website or HERE on TI’s Facebook page.
- Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat takes place at 10:00 a.m. Join us on Zoom here.
- At 7:00 p.m. join Cantor Alicia Stillman for a musical way to say goodbye to Shabbat together. Sing along to some of our most beloved Israeli songs of the last century. Then, stay with us at 8:00 p.m. for Havdalah as we welcome the new week together. Join HERE on Zoom, or watch along on the website HERE, or on Facebook HERE.
- Sunday at 11:30 a.m. speaker Rachel Korazim will present Connections to the Land of Israel. Her thought-provoking talks open a window onto Israeli society, inviting listeners to engage with the country and its history in new ways. Click here to RSVP and get the Zoom link.