Our hearts and minds are with our brothers and sisters in Israel, and the terror victims in France. Their lives were cut short this week, simply because they stood for what is good and what is right. We have an obligation to be kind, giving, tolerant, open minded, pluralistic and generous. Sometimes that entails standing up proudly and firmly for what we know is right, and defeating those who seek to impose their will on others.


This week we read about Jacob, the third of our forefathers, and his family. We read of them being hounded by his father in law, Laban. Laban cheated on Jacob in business affairs numerous times, ultimately making it so uncomfortable for Jacob and his family that they decided to leave the town of Charan (modern day Syria), to go live in peace.

Before departing, Jacob and Laban made a small pile of stones on the road leading out of the town, as a symbol of respectful separation between themselves. They vowed to keep a healthy distance, symbolized by this small stone pile. This little wall was small though, easy to climb over.

It's an ancient biblical story, but can definitely be made relevant. I'm sure you can think of something or someone who's a modern day Laban. Things that we'd like to keep at a distance, things that make our lives more difficult. It may be a person, place, business, grocery store or associate that just always get on our nerves. Every time we encounter them we go away from that encounter frustrated.

And so, like Jacob, we build a wall. A wall of separation and distance. A wall to keep us safe. Perhaps we'll avoid that grocery, or ignore that business associate when we meet them in the hall.

The world, and the people in it, are not perfect. There are times when we need to keep a distance. But, like Jacob, we must always remember to make sure that the wall is small, ultimately surmountable and temporary. The true way of peace and happiness is reaching out and being kind, even to those who don't deserve it. Even to those who would never do the same for us.

Our mission is to transform the world into a better place. Sometimes we need walls, yes. But they should be temporary. Its about finding that which needs help realizing its potential, and help it along. It may be a person place or thing. The Torah tells us that God sees this world as his beautiful garden. Though at times it may be difficult to see things this way, it is our job to continue forward, one Mitzvah at a time, one act of goodness and kindness at a time.

Rabbi Avrohom