Colors: Green Color

Tradition, one the more thoughtful periodicals of Orthodox dialogue, has been published by the Rabbinical Council of America for well over 50 years. To be sure, the articles on occasion raise eyebrows for both its contents and its authorship. But it still is generally considered one of the most prestigious publications of its type.

We are introduced to Sodom and Gomorrah in last week’s parshah of Lech-L’cha (See B’reishis 13:10, etc.). We continue to read of Sodom and its ultimate destruction in this week’s parshah of VaYeira. Aside from being told that the people of Sodom were “wicked and sinful toward Hashem exceedingly,” we are not given, in any detail, how awful the people of Sodom were. Yet we know they must have been bad if G-d decided that they were not worth saving, no matter how much Avraham pleaded on their behalf.

The Gemara (Moed Katan 17a) tells us: “If a rebbe resembles an angel of G-d, people may seek Torah from his mouth; if he does not, then one should not seek Torah from his mouth.” Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (1895-1986) was without a doubt one of the most respected g’dolei ha’dor (Torah authorities) in America during his time. He was certainly the most accepted expert in halachah, Jewish law.

By now, many of you have heard of my intention to retire from my position as Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills. The purpose of this article is not to reflect on my years in the rabbinate or the community. I will save that, bli neder, for another time. Rather, I would like to focus on an observation from the perspective of one who is at the dusk of his rabbinic career.

The Oslo Accords of 1993 were a hard sell. Israel had agreed in private meetings between Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat ym”sh held in Oslo, Norway, to cede good portions of Jewish-liberated Judea and Shomron to the control of the PLO for the purposes of making peace. Arafat openly spoke in Arabic to his Arab audience, saying that the agreements were just a subterfuge to entrap the Israelis into surrendering land.

The old saying goes… “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” In fact, I first saw that on a certain service vehicle years ago in Woodridge, New York. It struck me then that these people were so right. It makes no difference what you do in life; what is important is how you treat others. But…it’s still nice to feel important.