A Rabbi’s High Holidays Message
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Taking responsibility for the words we speak: Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, Fairmount Temple
Kol Hakavod, Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, for a thought-provoking column on the High Holidays, as featured in Cleveland.com. Read his article below.
by Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk
This year I can hardly find a quiet space to reflect amidst the cacophonous debates in our news. You need only listen for a few minutes before ugly accusations and controversial insinuations are uttered by national leaders. A few days later these same individuals run for cover when called to account for their words. One of the complaints we hear is that society is too "politically correct" and that our leaders should speak plainly and without fear of recrimination.
This complaint is not new! Our Talmudic rabbis witnessed harmful speech and so they taught that each of our tongues is like an ancient near eastern utensil that had a spoon on one side and a knife on the other. They wanted people to realize that when we speak, we can choose to nourish and sustain others like a spoon... or we can maim and cut others like a knife.
It is distressing when we see people maim and cut others intentionally with their words. I once encountered a friend of my parents at a restaurant. She told me she had been enduring a stressful house-sale negotiation. Then she added an emphatic warning, "Never sell to Koreans." Offended, I admonished, "Isn't that what people say about us Jews?"