|From the Desk of the Rabbi
דברי הרב Parashat Emor:
The Ottawa Jewish community was fortunate to have had the opportunity to host the Chief Rabbi of Israel, HaRav David Lau, shlita. I had the pleasure of hearing him address important issues on three different occasions here, and I have attended sessions he gave in Israel at rabbinical conferences. While Rabbi Lau gave diplomatic answers to questions posed to him by Rabbi Bulka at the session at Machzike Hadas, he was more forthright in a private meeting with community leaders the next morning.What struck me most poignantly about Rabbi Lau’s responses to controversial questions was his ability to bridge the gap between two types of communications alluded to in the Torah. The two communications can be labeled as”amirah” and “dibbur.” The former refers to ordinary statements that are verbalized, and the latter refers to curt, direct answers that are not usually accompanied by explanations and qualifications.
In the Torah lexicon, the word Amirah connotes a soft approach to a sensitive topic. The very beginning of Emor reveals G-d’s communication to the kohanim to be careful about their status so as not to defile themselves inadvertently or purposely. One would imagine that G-d would take a strong approach of admonition and warning to the Kohanim to protect their purity. However, the Or Hachaim writes that the softer approach is taken in order to enlighten and inform the Kohanim of their unique position in Jewish life.
On the other hand, there are times that G-d takes a strong position in dictating the law to Moshe, in order not to allow for divergence and dissension. The choice of communication is determined by circumstance.
In dealing with the general public, Rabbi Lau utilized the soft approach in answering the controversial questions regarding conversions, the Kotel and other areas of Jewish life. In a private meeting the next morning, he took a harsher approach, albeit charmingly.
How to communicate is a difficult task. Sometimes in communicating with others, we take a harsh approach when we should be taking a softer one. Sometimes, we are so politically correct in our answers that we fail to realize that a harsher response would be more appropriate. As the president of Federation stated at the end of the private session Friday morning with the Chief Rabbi, the forthrightness of the Chief Rabbi was appreciated even though it was not expected that all would agree the Chief Rabbiâ€™s statements.
On a personal note, I thank Bram Bregman and his organizing committee, Congregation Machzike Hadas, the Federation, and the JCC for facilitating the Chief Rabbi’s visit to Ottawa. I was also pleased to see the two day schools of our community, the Ottawa Jewish Community School and Torah Day School, come together to greet the Chief Rabbi. Chabad and Rabbi Mendelsohn should be thanked for arranging to have the Chief Rabbi participate in the Lag B’omer parade.
I also thank Rabbi Scher and Rabbi Bulka for joining me bringing our two congregations together for the religious celebration of Yom Haatzmaut that took place at Beit Tikvah recently.
To culminate the message of unity pervading our community, JETâ’s Jewish Unity Live coming up on Sunday clearly conveys the thought that a community that works together flourishes and grows.
How good and how pleasant is the dwelling of our people together in unity. (Psalm 133)