|December 18, 2010
Truth and Leaks
by Rabbi Paul Drazen
Secret political information leaked. Less than judicious discussions of a person’s political proclivities made public. A major publication prints secrets of palace intrigue. Unprecedented exposure of government’s back room fills the pages.
There’s been quite a bit of hubbub since the release of government documents to the media by WikiLeaks. In light of those reactions, there is a freshness and current feel to the haftarah for Vayechi. Consider just one sentence of King David’s final words to his son and political heir, Solomon. “Further you know Joad son of Zeruiah did to me, what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s forces, … So act in accordance with your wisdom and see that his white hair does not go down to Sheol in peace.”
A humash is not the New York Times, but shades of “too much information” going public came to my mind when reading those words this year with the nightly news ringing in my ear. We must assume that at least this part of King David’s was originally marked ‘for your eyes only;’ it certainly was not meant to be shared. I would doubt that King David would have expected hundreds of thousands of people to be reading such directives centuries and centuries later, and in a place of worship!
There are some things which just should not be shared. We all know that. Is it right to tell something and to spread the word, just because we can? Is there a benefit to be had by holding a poorly written missive over someone’s head? If someone misspoke, or said something judgmental in confidence within the scope of a job, must they spend the rest of their days worried about what could happen?
Is there anyone who hasn’t hit the send button on an e-mail… then paled when realizing that it went to the wrong people? Stories of confidences which should have been kept but were leaked for personal gain are myriad. If anything, there is so much room for information leaks today, it’s a surprise that it took so long for those diplomatic cables to leak.
Our biblical heroes are very human, with their flaws and weaknesses left open for everyone to see. King David might have been a great poet and politician, but along with the psalms he left this summary of political deals: actions to be taken, promises to keep, cleaning up missteps and wrong actions, even a bit of a political son taking actions to complete actions left incomplete by his father. That’s all for the good, no one can reach perfection; having a role model who is less than perfect allows us a realistic target for living.
Our tradition tells us that sometimes pure truth is not the right way to live and interact. Tact, not political correctness, suggests that we should learn to muzzle ourselves if the direct result of our words will be hurtful.
Will there be hurtful results from the WikiLeaks leaks? Time will tell. But telling, as well, will be if it causes us to stop and think a bit longer before we speak or type about others.
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by
Rabbi Paul Drazen,
Chief Program Development Officer, United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism,1820 Second Avenue, NY, NY 10017, 646-519-9310, editorial board member, The Unraveller and David Goldis' brother-in-law.
The opinions expressed in this Unraveller are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the FJMC.
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|The FJMC gets letters!
Dear Rabbi Charles Simon,
My name is Jakub (Jacob) Doman and I live in Warsaw, in Poland. Rabbi Chaim Weiner and Mrs. Joanna Kubar visit us in November, just before Hannukah. They visit us because they wanted to talk about Masorti Movement in Poland. We talk how to start and learn.
When we finish our meeting, there was also my wife-Barbara, Rabbi Weiner gave me unusual gift. Rabbi Chaim gave me teffilin and I asked him to tie it. I couldn't hide my emotions in that moment. I never thought that moment will come.
Rabbi Weiner wrote me a letter from London a few days later. He let me know, that Rabbi Simon and FJMC sponsored* teffilin for me.
I would like to thank You, this schenk is a big honour for my person, I feel very touched. I know that gift oblige me to go to Kavanah. I decide to recolect my donors every day when I say Amidah.
Dear Rabbi, I'm (a) Jew living in the City, the City where memory and reality are still together... we remember Umschlagplatz, but we are still alive and we have good Jewish life now, here in Warscha. I was rabbinical student, unfortunately I had to stop my study. I didn't have financial assets. I hope I will finish study,which is my dream. Today I'm helping my wife. She is a technical dentist, and she has her own business. We have two children, Klara (Claire) and Ernest are in private Jews school, only one in Poland. Klara is the best student, she is 13.
I will never forget your big gift. I wish the best for You, Your family and FJMC.
Toda raba, le'Schalom
Jakub Doman, Warsaw, Poland
p.s. I'm sorry but my english is not good; but I study this language, I speak german.
*Funds raised by your membership in the International Kiddush Club are the main source of funding for Tefillin Fund.
The current total is over $14,000, used to purchase tefillin and mezuzot
for those who cannot afford them in Latin America & Europe.