Thursday, June 27, 2013

Is Tolerance a Jewish Value ?

After 40 years of leading his flock through the challenges of the desert terrain, Moshe was finally coming to terms with the fact that by Divine decree he would not enter the Land of Israel. Moshe was the ultimate selfless leader and pleaded with G-d to appoint a worthy successor. In this week’s parsha, we learn about the fascinating dialogue that takes place between Moshe and G-d about the necessary qualifications for this demanding position. Can you imagine trying to put together a job description to replace Moshe? What unique qualities did Moshe request that his successor possess? Was it being an outstanding scholar? A sharp judge?  Someone that would pray for 6 hours a day?

In fact Moshe did not mention any of these but a quality that is crucial in any leadership position, let alone the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish people. As Rashi points out, Moshe addressed G-d as the G-d of all spirits. Essentially what we he was telling G-d was that since there is so much diversity among people, they need a leader that can understand everyone where they are. (This was without him ever participating at a congregational meeting!) Please appoint a leader that can have tolerance towards each and every individual. To be sure, having tolerance doesn't mean agreeing with someone that has a differing view from you. In certain circumstances it is necessary to condemn various actions or behaviors. Rather it means that it is not necessary for you to shout down everybody that you disagree with.

In our own Jewish world when there is so much mistrust among different streams of our people -- I think this message is more timeless than ever. I may not agree with you but I love you as a fellow Jew because we ultimately we have a shared destine as one nation going all the way back to Mt Sinai.

Tolerance and Patience are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of strength and greatness. This is a core Jewish value. This is what Moshe prayed for in a successor. 

Please share your thoughts.


  1. Thank you for sharing such powerful messages every week!! In my humble opinion you are a perfect example of loving EVERY Jew even if you don't agree with them. As you mentioned before in your blog, this is a wonderful trait; and I look up to you for having it!! Thank you for giving me such an amazing role model to look up to!!!
    Rachelli Fisch

  2. Thank you so much for teaching us a good lesson.I really think you should love a fellow even if sometimes you have arguments. Every person has a role model my role model are my parents. Even though we (kids)bother my parents a lot you still love us.It really is something to think about don't always think that if you have an argument with someone you cant still love them.
    I thank my parents so much.
    I also thank my father for putting out this blog so I could learn a lesson.

    - Tammy

  3. Whatever Rachelli says I have to agree with. She is very wise!

    We live in an age of Fox news and other outlets that followed its approach (because it is so popular). As a culture we are being trained to find the negative in others instead of commonalities. The real truth is boring so it does not make it to the news or Reality TV. The vast majority of all people are really kind and caring. When we are taught to fear and to hate, it is hard to take a closer look. I have a good friend who was a Medic in Viet Nam in 1968. He experienced nothing but death and destruction. He called me from Viet Nam this week, first time back in 45 years, and said that the people are the most kind, civil and forgiving that he has ever seen. And they hold no animosity towards us for what we did to them and their country. The TRUTH is that we do not need to be full of fear. We should enjoy the goodness of our fellow Jews and virtually everyone else. Tolerance comes when we learn we are all from the same source and almost all people tries to do his will in their lives.

  4. כבוד הרב שלום

    הרב שואל מי יכול להחליף את משה,
    רוב האנשים יש להם חוכמה ובינה אבל ברור שלא קל להיות מנהיג.השאלה למה?
    על מנת להצליח בכל דבר בנוסף לחוכמה ובינה.צריך גם דעת.
    בכדי להיות מנהיג התכונה של דעת חייבת להמצא .
    מהי דעת ?-זה הטוב שנמצא בכול דבר שיש בו דין קשיים וסבל.
    האדם שרואה ברע את הטוב מסוגל להיות מנהיג כמו משה.
    שבת שלום מאיר


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