Rabbi Rael Blumenthal


#ChayeiSara #תשפב

There are two things that I learned this week, that don't make sense together.

The First: At parent teacher conferences, I noted to a number of parents that their child was a mench. Every single parent glowed at the compliment and told me that “being a mench was the most important thing in the world for them.” Some continued and explained: Having Derech Eretz is more important than what they are learning. More important than their grades. More important than anything else going on in school.

I loved hearing this – Jews are incredible. Mi K'Amcha Yisrael! Despite our deep commitment to excellence in learning, we are willing to push aside any other priority, any other value for the overarching value of Menchlichkeit.

But there is a second thing I learned this week. And it doesn't make sense. More and more, I am hearing from teachers, rabbeim and administrators that parents are writing, saying and yelling terrible things, in hurtful ways. All in the interest of ensuring that their children have a better experience in school.

I do not begrudge parents the need to “do everything they can” to help their kids. But I do question if we are fully considering the cost of acting with demonstratively negative middos.

I can only conclude that while good middos is still our greatest value, we've been duped into thinking “they don't apply here.”

The world we live in today considers good middos as a cheap token to be quickly abandoned in the pursuit of other goals. Sometimes, they are political goals. Sometimes social, emotional or educational. People are hasty to find reasons to act with disdain and derision the moment they feel “he or she deserves it!” But even if they do deserve it, even if they “had it coming”, the paramount importance of living with Derech Eretz, that we all agree on, should give us pause.


#ChayeiSara #תשפא

In the past week we have said goodbye to two more Gedolei Olam – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Dovid Feinstein. This compounds the loneliness, the pain and the isolation we have all felt in the past nine months. But in the wake of their passing, we are left asking the same painful question yet again: Who will replace them?

Of course, no one is ever replaceable. The candle might burn from one shabbos to the next. The challah might, once again stay fresh all week long. But for Avraham Avinu, Rivka will never replace Sarah. How could she?

But in the wake of her passing, Avraham knows that his and her legacy must continue beyond their lifetime. Avraham slowly, tragically comes to terms with his own mortality. And the reality that the task of bringing the entirety of humanity to a recognition of Hashem is bigger than one lifetime.

And so his goal, and the goal of every Jewish parent since, is to perpetuate this truth by cheating death – by having children.

For Avraham, the stakes are incredibly high. If Yitzchak fails, then the world fails. In no uncertain terms, humanity depends on Yitzchak finding a Shidduch that will partner with him in this mission.