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The G Word

Friday, 21 December, 2012 - 1:00 pm

A couple once came to a rabbi dismayed that their only son was engaged to a non-Jewish girl. “Rabbi, you must intercede and speak to him. If he marries her he will join her faith and we will not have any Jewish grandchildren!”

“I’m sorry,” replied the rabbi. “But you’ve come 25 years too late.”


The horrific murder of innocent children and their teachers last week still reverberates in our consciousness as we try to make sense of the absolutely senseless. Our thoughts and prayers are with the devastated families of Newton who are burying their young.

In the days that have gone by and in the weeks and months to come, our country will dig deeper to find the answers. We want to know why this happened and – more importantly now – how to prevent it from ever reoccurring. 

Some will advocate stricter gun laws; others will demand armed protection in our schools; parents will load up on bulletproof backpacks; homeschooling might see a wave of popularity.

What does the Torah say?


In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, we learn of the sensational reunion of Yosef (Joseph) and his brothers. Joseph had surreptitiously arranged for his silver goblet to be found in his youngest brother Binyamin’s sack and accused the young man of stealing it. The eleven brothers stood before Yosef, at a loss from these severe, fresh allegations.

Suddenly, Yehudah (Judah) steps forward and declares, “For your servant assumed responsibility for the boy from my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him to you, I will have sinned against my father forever.' So now, please let your servant stay instead of the boy as a slave to my lord, and may the boy go up with his brothers.” Yehudah is prepared to swap places with Binyamin.

True, Yehudah took responsibility for his youngest brother. But he certainly had plenty of excuses should his father demand Binyamin’s well-being: I tried my best. The ruler of Egypt is irrational. The cup was found in Binyamin’s bag. It must be Divine Providence. And so on.

But Yehudah does not make excuses. He recognizes that here – although tragedy has befallen them by no fault of his own – excuses will not solve the problem.  Action will.

So he springs into action.


As we question that sorry state of school mass murders in America, let us remember that speculation will not solve anything. Action will.

While government agencies will decide the issues of gun control, there is a darker reality that we need to face. It is the vanishing morality in our schools.

Our children are exposed to every lurid aspect of violence, sexuality, drugs and crime – but the mention of values and ethics is considered out of bounds because someone might actually say the “G” word.

Decades ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, began a campaign to embrace a moment of silence in schools – yes in public schools. Many will criticize this because of the separation of church and state. The Rebbe, however, looked deeper than politics. Let us ask ourselves, “Is it better to raise children that recognize the make and model of every gun and see drugs and murder on their TV screens day in and day out, or youngsters that might utter the word G-d as part of their vocabulary?”

I am not advocating prayer in schools. That might cross a line. But it is high time that we allow students time for spirituality; a moment of silence to ponder the moral values of this world. A moment to free their pure souls from the avalanche of Hollywood and Playstation. It’s high time we help our children idolize G-d and not some actor bereft of values.

I can’t imagine any harm coming from that. If we do it today, we might have a greater chance for the children of tomorrow.

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