Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use


From Tim Tebow to Chick-fil-A: A Plea for Civility

chick-fil-A tim tebow

On Wednesday Quarterback Tim Tebow cancelled an upcoming appearance at a Dallas Megachurch. The church’s controversial teachings and pastor Robert Jeffers seem to be the reason. Jeffers has spoken out vociferously against homosexuality, Islam and Mormonism.

Has Politics Taken Over

While I oppose Jeffers’ teachings, we all lose when religion becomes a political lightening rod. It happened when the media highlighted the conservative causes supported by the owner of Chick-fil-A. It happened when television stations played endless clips of President Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright.

We see it in the Jewish community as well. In Seattle, for example, a gay support group rescinded an invitation to an Israeli gay support group because some argued that having anyone from Israel speak would give unfair legitimacy to “Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

How did politics take over religious discourse? Faith is meant to bring people together, not drive them apart. It is about building bonds, not driving television ratings or newspaper sales. How can we shift the tone of the conversation?

1. Soften our language: “A soft answer turns away wrath,” says the Book of Proverbs, “but a harsh word stirs up anger.” “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Verbal violence, as Jonathan Sacks points out, is often a prelude to physical violence.

We need to be careful when we call someone or some teachings hateful. We need to be careful when we condemn groups or individuals or entire communities.

2. Reject censorship: Good people can disagree. Two of the early rabbis in Jewish history, Hillel and Shammai, disagreed on practically everything. And Hillel won most of their arugments.

Yet, they respected one another’s points of view, and a later rabbi concluded their disagreements aided Judaism’s search for truth and understanding of God’s will. Engagement and conversation works much better than muzzling and censorship.

3. Remember what unites us rather than divides us: It is human nature to focus on what differentiates us. We categorize people based on skin color, hair color, age, birthplace, religion, and so on. Each of these differences makes us who we are, and we should celebrate them.

Yet, when we define ourselves too narrowly, we limit our perspective. We limit our ability to engage with others. No matter how strongly we feel about an issue, we need to open ourselves up to the other side.

How To Disagree With Dignity

To listen is not to accept. To engage in conversation is not to give a stamp of approval. To show respect is not to give up your point of view.

Rather, Respecting others is a sign of strength, not weakness. It bespeaks courage, not cowardice. It lends itself to dignity and not division.

None of us have a monopoly on God’s truth. Let us learn to live with that wisdom and humility.

To receive Rabbi Moffic’s weekly digest of Jewish wisdom, click here.



Previous Posts

God Never Gives Up Hope: A Prayer for Israel
 I remember my first visit to Israel in 1994. The Oslo Accords had just been signed. Hope reigned. My group was greeted warmly in the Arab market in Jerusalem. The opposite feelings prevail today. We witness bombings, indiscriminate hatred, vitriol. Dozens of my friends who are there now share w

posted 10:19:40pm Jul. 13, 2014 | read full post »

The Secret to Happiness? Let Life Surprise You
I remember sitting one day with my  three-year-old daughter. She had a book in her and was turning the pages and telling the story. This was her regular habit. She could not yet read the words, but she could tell the story based on the pictures. I had one ear listening to her voice and the ot

posted 4:23:22pm Jul. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Do Christians Need to Learn More About Judaism? A Rabbi Responds to the Pope
In the 1970s Alex Haley wrote the best-seller Roots. He sought to find the roots of his life as an African-American. Where did he come from? What experiences shaped who he was?   We all ask these questions. We seek not only geographic roots and ethnic roots. We look for spiritual roots. Where

posted 9:50:26pm Jul. 06, 2014 | read full post »

Why Do Jews Care So Much About Israel?
Last year I attended the Irish Fest in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The music and ambience make it one of most unforgettable days of the year. Listening to a concert, I struck up a conversation with someone standing next to me. I told him I was a rabbi, and once we got past the usual

posted 1:40:08pm Jun. 22, 2014 | read full post »

In the Wake of the Kansas City Horror: The Life-Saving Power of Interfaith Conversation
This post was written with my friend and colleague, Reverend Lillian Daniel.  The late great Abraham Joshua Heschel was once asked why he devoted so much time to interfaith dialogue. He answering by recounting part of his family history. “When the Nazis came for my parents,” he wrote,

posted 1:56:25pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.