Shabbat Shalom Friends,
I love gathering with you for Shabbat!
Our casual Shabbat dinner, our fun, uplifting music and our learning discussions about Jewish ideas nourish my soul. I hope they do the same for you!
For the first time, the Neshamah teachers and I decided to adopt a Jewish study theme to explore for this entire year.
So instead of browsing through different topics each Shabbat and week of school, we’re going to focus on one theme: Kosher Speech.
Kosher speech, as I spoke about on Yom Kippur, is the concept of treating our words with the utmost care. Much of how we navigate in the world – from our personal relationships, to communicating at work, to the tone of voice we use with strangers – revolves around speech.
Judaism, of course, has much to say about this topic. Kosher speech is a big subject which is mentioned in the Torah, throughout the Talmud and rabbinic literature. Most famously, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (Russia 1838-1933) compiled a code of Jewish law, called Chafetz Chayim, that has become the authoritative text on kosher speech.
Over this year we will explore the many subcategories and specifics of kosher speech including: are white lies okay, if it’s true is it still gossip and when to speak out and when to be silence.
As we often learn from our tradition: God is in the details. We may intend to use our words kindly and ethically but everyday stresses, distractions and our usual busy-ness can make that goal challenging. It’s likely that we hurt more people with our words than any other behavior.
I hope that studying this topic and exploring it’s application in our everyday lives will not only enhance our Jewish knowledge but also elevate our interactions with people.
This is just one example of the seriousness with which our tradition takes our words and our commitments to each other.
Let’s dive in!
Thank you so very much for bringing your openness and enthusiasm to our Neshamah family.
Wishing you a Shabbat of peace and enjoyment,
Rabbi Amy Rader