Sunday, January 14, 2018

Truth to Power

from the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz


I am honored that my rabbinical colleagues here in Bergen County have asked me to deliver the keynote address at the Sweet Tastes of Torah community night of study, Saturday night, Feb. 3, 2018 (7:00 PM) at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center.

My talk is entitled "Truth to Power: Prophetic Ethics in Troubled Times". It’s inspired by my new book, Path of the Prophets: The Ethics-Driven Life. I extend an invitation to you to join the several hundred people who gather at this annual evening of community learning. This year my address will be followed by break-out sessions led by a dozen of my colleagues. Each session will discuss a chapter of my book that elaborates on the prophetic path.

It gives me no pleasure to say that the publication of this book could not be more timely. It seems that we read about another sexual misconduct or political malfeasance scandal every week. As I will ask at the community event: “When will it end? Where will it end? How are we supposed to react? Is it enough to shake our heads or wring our hands? Is it enough to tusk-tusk and move on? Is it enough to forgive and forget? If this is a 'transformative' moment, then what have we learned? If this is a 'teachable' moment, then what do we say to our children?"

Enter the prophets. Even in their day they understood that the corruption of power is nothing new. They understood that the complicity of the elite is nothing new. And they understood that the apathy of the masses is nothing new.

Yet none of this stopped the prophets from speaking truth to power. None of this stopped the prophets from standing up when everyone else stood aside. None of this stopped the prophets from advocating for the path that I call “the ethics-driven life”.

Now more than ever, we need to rediscover these forgotten provocateurs who incited the most remarkable revolution in Western Civilization; who gave us the Great Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves; who gave us the Ten Commandments that forbid murder and theft and adultery and lying; who gave us the charge to love the stranger, the widow and the orphan; who gave us the demand “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly”.

I hope to see you there!

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