Honorable Mensch-ion

The Liberty Bell

No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a visit to the Liberty Bell. And no visit to the Liberty Bell is complete without mention of Parshat Behar, for the words of our tradition, “And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land,” is inscribed on that bell.

Our Torah tells us that we must sound the shofar on Yom Kippur of the Jubilee year. The Rabbis ask what is the difference between sounding the shofar on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? On our new year, the shofar awakens our soul to a season of forgiveness and repentance. Yet, the shofar on Yom Kippur is a sound of freedom and emancipation. Leonard Fein, the social scientist, wrote of his father who was born in Eastern Europe. He tells the story of his father’s teacher, who taught the children that in a far away place called, America. In that country, there is a bell, and on that bell you can find the words of our Torah. When Leonard Fein’s father arrived in America, he eventually found himself in Philadelphia, and saw the bell. What he saw, however, was shocking…the bell was cracked.

As we read the commandment this Shabbat to sound the shofar, let us hear a different sound. Hear the ring of a bell, see the crack in the bell, and begin to fix that bell, one day at a time.


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