The Internet is wonderful for wondering Jews — so much information!
I try to read as much as possible and, as I say to my adult students, find what works for you. To integrate Jewish practice into our lives, it must make sense on many levels. Just this week I read a blog by Laura Duhan Kaplan. She titled the piece Pray Before You Post and wrote about comments from people about her pieces.
First, she reminds us not to blame social media telling of ugly comments she received after writing letters to the editor. Her comment is important for us — “It’s the people, not the medium.” When Ms. Kaplan responds politely, kindly or generously, her friends say: “I wish you would be less like the peacemaking Aaron and more like the angry Moses.”
Words can hurt; we have the Chofetz Chaim to teach us the many rules of lashon hara — evil speech. We say that gossip is a part of life but does that mean it is OK to talk about others and share secrets?
We could spend months, even years, studying the Chofetz Chaim and yet does it help us control our words? Judaism is about action and words, but not about thoughts. Unfortunately often our thoughts come out of our mouths before we are done and now our fingers text, email and more without pondering a bit more.
Ms. Kaplan says that every day she reflects on the personal prayer of fourth century Jewish spiritual leader, Mar bar Ravina. His prayer is in the traditional siddur, at the end of the Amidah’s daily silent reflection:
“My God, stop my tongue from gossip, and my lips from haughty speech. When others curse me, quiet my reactions; help my being be as porous as dust.”
There is a blessing for everything in Judaism — the most important thing is not to remember the “right” blessing but to remember to bless. So imagine what the world would be if each person said this prayer just before hitting “send”?
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center..