|Beyond Twelve Gates-Devarim II|
|Écrit par Rabbi Ze'ev Smason|
Looking for some good summer reading? I recommend Road to Valor, an inspiring story of Gino Bartali, the cyclist who made the greatest comeback in Tour de France history and secretly helped save the lives of up to 800 Jews during World War II. In 1943 Bartali, who had already won the Tour de France, helped persecuted Jews by smuggling identity photos. With valuable documents hidden inside the frame and saddle of his bicycle while on 200 mile-plus 'training runs', Bartali would ride while wearing a racing jersey emblazoned with his name. Neither the Italian Fascist police nor the German troops risked popular discontent by arresting the national sports icon.
In 1943, Bartali led Jewish refugees towards the Swiss Alps himself. He cycled pulling a wagon with a secret compartment, telling patrols it was just part of his training. Following his death in 2000, it emerged that Bartali had hidden a Jewish family in his cellar and according to one of the survivors, by doing so saved their lives. Bartali remained modest about his actions, not even telling his wife. His own public comment was “Good is something you do, not something you talk about. Some medals are pinned to your soul, not to your jacket.”
The powerful Biblical command "Do not stand idly by your brother's blood" (Leviticus 19:16) mandates moral courage, obligating even the simple citizen to positively act to save a life. The Torah has always called for the protection of the weak, the beleaguered and the innocent. We must stand up and protect those unable to help themselves.
Parshas Devarim Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:11
This week we begin the fifth and final book of the Torah, Deuteronomy. This book is also called Mishna Torah, "Repetition of the Torah" - thus the Greek title 'Deuteronomy.' Its contents were spoken by Moses to the Jewish people during the final five weeks of his life as the people prepared to cross the Jordan River into the land of Israel. A central theme of Deuteronomy is Moses' review of the mitzvos, and his emphasis on the change of lifestyle the Jewish people were to undergo. The transition was to be made from a supernatural existence in the desert to a natural life to be experienced in the Land of Israel.
The portion begins with Moses' veiled rebuke in which he makes reference to the many sins and rebellions of the past forty years. Moses spends significant time discussing the failed mission of the spies; ten of the twelve men sent to scout out the land returned with a bad report, resulting in the entire nation wandering in the desert for forty years. Moses later discusses the Children of Israel's conquest on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. This Torah portion concludes with words of encouragement for Moses' successor, Joshua.
The phrase 'There's no such thing as bad publicity' is often associated with Phineas T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner. Barnum was a self-publicist of the first order and never missed an opportunity to present his wares to the public. Barbara Streisand, award-winning singer, actress, film producer and director, may feel differently about there being 'no such thing as bad publicity.'
The Streisand Effect refers to an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information which has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. The phenomenon takes its name from Barbra Streisand, who made an ill-fated attempt at reining in the Internet in 2003. When an environmental activist posted aerial photos of Streisand's Malibu beach house on his Web site as part of an environmental survey, she responded by suing him for $50 million. Until the lawsuit, few people had spotted Streisand's house. However, the lawsuit brought more than a million visitors to the activist's Web site. Streisand's case was dismissed -- with Streisand ordered to pay $177,107.54 in court and legal fees -- and a photo of her beach house was picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted in newspapers around the world.
The idea that no publicity can do harm is clearly open to question. King Solomon said, "So you will find favor and good repute In the eyes of G-d and man." (Proverbs 3:4) Act with a cognizance that the Almighty is always watching. Simultaneously, be careful not to sully your reputation in the eyes of others.
Quote of the Week
If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it -- Earl Wilson (1907-1987) American journalist and author
Joke of the Week
Saturday night (July 28) begins Tisha B'Av, the Jewish National Day of Mourning. Tisha B'Av is a full 24 hour fast, similar in that respect to Yom Kippur. Tisha B'Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, commemorating the multiple tragedies that occurred to the Jewish people throughout our long history. Remarkably, the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples took place on Tisha B'Av itself. Tisha B'Av is preceded by the sad and introspective period known as 'The 9 Days'. During these days we minimize joy and laughter to better focus on the meaning of this period of time. I have a great Joke of the Week to share with you .... but in deference to the solemnity of the 9 Days and Tisha B'Av, I'll save it for next week.