Another Voice

Reposted from the April 25th, 2014 blog post by Beth Steinberg appearing in, “Limmud on One Leg: A Weekly Commentary on the Parasha from a Limmud Presenter.”  http://limmud.org/publications/limmudononeleg/5774/kedoshim/#another

In memory of Ha’Rav Tuvia ben Dov z”l

Left to right,  Sarah Steinberg, Ted Steinberg, Beth Steinberg, 1972.

Left to right, Sarah Steinberg, Ted Steinberg, Beth Steinberg, 1970

“Hashem spoke to Moses, saying. Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G-d.”

Experiencing holiness. What would it be like? Would we recognize its delicate and divine touch in our everyday lives?

The Torah portion, in typical form, lays it out for us. How can we imbue a bit of holiness into our daily lives; honest behavior in business as well as with each other; gifts to the poor, and love for our fellow man, etc. Stunningly simple, really.

Yet, we rarely value the simple in our lives, from the person who follows G-d’s rules without hesitation to the person viewed as simple because of disability or difference.

When my father, Rabbi Theodore Steinberg z”l, began to show signs of cognitive changes related to the onset of dementia, I was struck by his deeply spiritual declarations about life. He spoke of angels – their presence and importance – and our need to recognize them in whatever forms they might appear.

Strangely enough, at that moment in his life, as his scholarly knowledge ebbed, as he began to speak in the frank and unfiltered way of those with developmental issues or dementia, I was touched by the holiness of his thoughts.

And I appreciated those thoughts, especially as he grew quieter, closed down by illness. When I reviewed my notes of his often jumbled sentences, there was much I could distill for myself, as well as share with his friends, his colleagues and his family.

A favorite poem comes to mind, one that we should all think of daily when we encounter those who deserve and need our extra attention and love. Let them share their unique holiness with you and “you shall be holy.”

If you always assume
the man sitting next to you
is the Messiah
waiting for some simple human kindness—
You will soon come to weigh your words
and watch your hands.
And if he so chooses
Not to reveal himself
In your time—
It will not matter.
Danny Siegel. ”And God Braided Eve’s Hair” (1976); Unlocked Doors (1983)

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