In the new book, Reorganized Religion, veteran religion writer Bob Smietana analyzes the seismic shifts in religious disaffiliation in America: Synagogues and churches closing and merging, a larger category of “nones,” those who call themselves spiritual yet proudly declare their independence of connection to a religious community. Last week, in The Wall Street Journal, the report was more enthusiastic, as Clare Ansberry described the uptick in young professionals desire for organized religion and sacred community.
It is comforting to know that so much of what humanity is searching for today is in fact found in our tradition this Shabbat. What values are seen as universal to the rest of the world are particular to our tradition in parshat Kedoshim, detailing the steps to achieve a holy life.
The Torah teaches us, “You shall not insult the deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind.” Ibn Ezra’s comment is terse.
He teaches, “Because you have the power to do so.” This precept follows the last verse, which forbids us to misuse power to oppress.
Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others, and power often begins with words, which leads to thought, which leads to action.
Three times a day, we utter these words before our Amidah, “May God open up our lips and may our mouths recite words of praise.”
May our words not only remove these stumbling blocks, but open up paths of righteousness to create a world that seeks holiness and sacred connection.