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February 06, 1987 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-02-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

*

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coupon expires Feb. 27, 1987

FRONT OR REAR BRAKES

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new pads or shoes

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Fighting A Hard Heart:
A Jewish Prescription

RABBI RICHARD C. HERTZ

Special to The Jewish News

T

his week's Torah por-
tion reveals the true
character of Pharoah.
After seeing his people suffer-
ing from the plagues of locusts
overrunning the country, he
summons Moses and Aaron
and urges them to intercede
with God to end the plagues.
The real cause of all the
plagues is Pharoah's refusal to
humble himself before God. No
sooner are the plagues lifted
than Pharoah forgets his prom-
ises to Moses, defies God and
refuses to let the Israelites go.
Why? Pharoah's heart har-
dens. "The Lord hardened
Pharoah's heart so that he did
not let the children of Israel
go."
Hardening of the heart is a
common illness today. When a
person refuses to give of him-
self, he reveals a hardening of
the heart. We see this in family
life everywhere. A father feels
it's a sign of weakness to show
emotion to his children. A hus-
band freezes up and cannot
communicate with his wife.
Brothers fight with each other,
often over money. Greed har-
dens the heart.
What can people do to soften
hardening of the heart? There
are no pills that I know of to
buy at the corner drugstore. A
doctor has no prescription to
write for you.
Judaism has an answer. The
religion of lovingkindness
prescribed by Hillel can help.
"Love they neighbor as thy-
self," not more but not less.
Compassion, mercy, generos-
ity of spirit, an open hand, a
warm smile, a friendly atti-
tude, these are some of the
tools of religion to utilize. God
knows that the best synagogue
is the human heart. Pirke Avot
reminds us that the highest
good is a good heart, the
greatest evil is an evil heart,
for a good heart includes all
other virtues.
To be softhearted is no an-
swer against being har-
dhearted. But to be generous
and kind and open shows that
words which come from the
heart enter into the heart. •

What does it take to be a
Jew? It takes a heart. The
greatness of Judaism is that it
is not all intellect and reason.
Judaism is only belatedly dis-
covering this elementary truth
that religion has to do with
emotion as well, with warmth
in religious experience. There
are ceremonies and customs in
Jewish life that enhance liv-
ing, notable occasions in the
life-cycle of the Jew that add
richness and meaning, holi-
days and festivals that differ-
entiate the sacred from the pro-

26400 W. 12 Mile Rd. (N.E. corner of Northwestern) in the Franklin Savings Center.

357-5578

48

Friday, February 6, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Richard C. Hertz is rabbi
emeritus at Temple Beth El.

fane and raise man from the
level of the brute.
Then, too, flowing in the
bloodstream pumped through
the body of the Jew from his
heart is the quality of mercy.
The Jew's warm-hearted pulse
beats not just for his own body
but for others. Tzedekah has
been stressed in Jewish life be-
cause since biblical times, we
Jews were bidden to care for
the "stranger, the widow and
the orphaned." We have de-
veloped a family feeling of one
for the other. We Jews have
learned to take care of each
other, to look after each other,

Shabbat Bo:
Exodus
10:1-13:16;
Jeremiah 46:13-28

to respond generously and
graciously when our people
have been in need, in sickness,
in tragedy or in trouble. We
have heart!
This spirit of togetherness
means that when one Jew is
beaten, others feel it too. The
buckshot of hate and prejudice
fired by anti-Semites has
pierced the heart of the Jew,
making him especially sensi-
tive to discrimination, bigotry,
intolerance or abuse, whether
directed solely at the Jew or at
other minorities.
Yes, it takes a strong and
courageous heart to be a Jew
today. A Jew needs a heart,
binding him to the Jewish
people, a heart that must beat
in time as one heartthrob with
the hopes and aspirations of
the Jewish people whether
here in America, or in Israel, or
in any of the far-flung corners
of the globe where Jews seek to
live in security and peace.
We Jews have learned from
Pharoah's hardheartedness
the human need for bighear-
tedness. We can't live without
a heart for others. The human
heart is small, yet embraces
the world. Remember what
Ahad HaAm reminded us: A
people's heart is the foundation
on which the land of Israel will
be built.

Rabbi Rules Out
Bullfighting

Melbourne (JTA) — The
leader of Israel's Sephardi
Council of Sages has deter-
mined that fighting bulls and
even watching a bullfight viol-
ate Jewish law, the Australian
Jewish News reports.
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, former
Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel,
so ruled in response to an in-
quiry by a group of Israelis
planning a tour of Spain. The
rabbi said Jewish law insists
on protecting animals from
wanton destruction.
He did suggest an alterna-
tive: visit a zoo.

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