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Parashat Shemini – What Will They Say?


The dog came to the heavenly court with a complaint:

 “I am completely degraded down on earth!” he cried. “The lion, which tears other animals apart, is honored as the king of the jungle, while my name is thrown around in a derogatory way!

 Who helps blind people walk? Who is considered man’s best friend? I ought to be treated with the respect given to the lion!”

 The court pondered his case, and responded:

 “Respect you want? A lion has a backbone! He holds his ground; he is truly the king of his territory – he earns his respect. You, on the other hand – all you need is a bone thrown at you for you to change your mind…” 

We’re a society far too concerned with how others perceive what we do. How will my boss look at it? What will my co-worker think? What will the world say?

Perhaps, that is the reason for the erosion of trust in our society. “Hey, maybe they are just saying that because they want to please me?”  “How do I know they really mean what they say?” “How do I know they are for real?”

After all, trust is born in the moments we see someone sticking to their values no matter what. Fluctuating values to respect is like laziness to success – they’re both absolute contradictions.

Instead of asking “what will the world say?” Let’s remember that the world is asking “what do you have to say?

Pushing that extra mile is where athletes are born. Sweating is where exercise begins. Maintaining values even when it’s uncomfortable is where respect is earned.

Of course, we should be sensitive to each other. If someone is allergic to nuts, then don’t bring nuts into the office. But, no one is allergic to a value system. No one is allergic to Judaism.

And the bottom line is nothing less than these poignant words made by British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks:

“Non-Jews respect Jews who respect Judaism.”

Wishing you a Shabat Shalom

Rabbi Mendy