We are struggling with a virus. The entire world is infected with it but we have yet to apply the vaccine that would protect us. And, yes, the vaccine is readily available. We do not have to cross oceans, climb mountains or create new laboratories to find it, nor do we need scientists or chemists to research it. It’s in our hands. We need only use it.
We must inspire our sons and daughters to idolize new heroes. But we cannot do that until we change ourselves. We must also adopt these new heroes to be our role models. It is their teachings that we and our children must emulate. Once we do that, we can reach out to society at large.
There is a telling story about a man who came to a rebbe. “Rebbe,” he said, “I have a dream to change the world and make it a better place.” The rebbe gave him a blessing and he embarked upon his project. Soon, though, the man came back.
“No one listens to me,” he complained.
“Why not focus on your city instead of the world?” the rebbe suggested.
Once again the man went forth with hope. But once again he returned to the rebbe.
“No one listens to me,” he cried.
The rebbe suggested the man try working in his own neighborhood rather than the entire city. But again the man came back disappointed.
The rebbe looked at him and asked, “Did you ever consider that before you change the world you need to change yourself?”
This story speaks to each of us. We know the problem; we recognize the sickness of our society. At the same time, we have to be realists. You and I will not change the media or contemporary culture. But what we can and must do is preserve the life of our families – and in order to do that we must begin by changing ourselves.
We, the Jewish people, were given a mandate at Sinai to live a life of compassion and kindness – a life of chesed. We must make those ideals our life goal and the life goal of our children. We must demand that our schools do the same. That is how we will rise above the decadence of this world and live by the Covenant of G-d, a Covenant more powerful than any society or culture.
Let us start now – before it is too late.