Archive for the ‘Special Needs’ Category
That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another: This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go now and learn it. (Hillel)
As I stood in Shabbat services with my daughters this morning, this line in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) stood out to me. I have read it many times over the course of my life, but today, for some reason, it stayed with me, resonating on a deeper and more profound level than it had before. Sometimes it is as if God knows just what it is that your soul needs in a moment of prayer & if you listen to that still, small voice within, you’ll find your way there.
There have been many beautiful blog posts and videos made of late asking people to stop using the word retard. The efforts are being spearheaded by r-word.org and their campaign “Spread The Word To End The Word.” I have personally signed the pledge and shared the site and mission with others. I believe that words have power. They can be used to build, to strengthen, to support, to learn, to educate and to share. They can also be used to belittle, dehumanize, weaken, destroy, promote ignorance and marginalize those already living on the periphery. The “R” word does the latter. That is the truth, plain and simple.
But not everybody gets it. “It’s just a word,” they say. “I don’t mean anything by it.” “What’s the big deal?” And so along with the many profound and eloquent pieces that have been shared through blogs, on Facebook, Twitter and more, I’d like to offer this simple truth. These are words that resonate with me as the mother of a child with autism, as a person of faith and as a human being. It is the Jewish version of that Golden Rule found in every faith. That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Now go and learn it.
Speak of others as you would like them to speak of you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Choose the words you would have others choose when they speak of you, your loved ones, your friends or your family. Our words matter.
This should be part of our moral compass. We teach it to children from a very young age. In my own preschool, where we lay the foundation of Jewish learning, we talk about using words of chesed (kindness), kavod (respect) and ahava (love). We teach these as an extension of the values that come with being part of a kehillat chesed (a caring community). I have no doubt that similar messages & values are taught in faith-based preschools everywhere, each cloaked in the fabric of that particular faith and its teachings. Our youngest children seem to understand & embrace these ideals. Where then does it get lost?
That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go now and learn it.
Sometimes it is the simplest of truths that can be hardest to learn. But as we encounter the commentary of our lives and of our faith, these are the truths that define who we are. They reveal our neshama, our soul, not only to God, but to our fellow human beings.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, Adonai (God) my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.