Shoftim/Ki Tetzei
Shoftim/Ki Tetzei

Shoftim/Ki Tetzei

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Often No News is Good News

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

The rise of global anti-semitism is on our minds. Our news channels are full of articles on the anti-Israel and anti-semitic protests and attacks on innocent individuals in Europe. It is common knowledge that the South African government (among many others) have been extremely critical of the IDF`s ‘Operation Protective Edge’. The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, favors broad based sanctions on the State of Israel.

Naturally, on my recent short trip to South Africa, I was more cautious than I have been in the past. I read the news on various websites on a daily basis and the picture of a broad based anti-semetic world was firmly entrenched in my consciousness. I wondered if people would see my kippah and begin insulting me or arguing with me.

The reality I experienced on the ground was entirely different. Despite the fact that I am obviously Jewish, given that I wear a kippah, I experienced no anti-semitism from the beginning of my trip to the end. In fact, people were kind, courteous, and generous of spirit wherever I went. It was a very uplifting experience indeed.

Often no news is good news. My obsession with negative media stories had poisoned my view of humanity in general. The truth is that most people are good, kind, and just want to get on with their lives, feed their families, and enjoy themselves. My hope for humanity and a better world has been restored.

On a microcosmic level, we often do the same thing. We focus on one or two negative aspects in others, blow them out of proportion, and conclude that the entire individual is negative and evil.

Friends, we have just entered the month of Elul with Rosh Hashanah (the day of judgement) less than one month away. Our sages teach us that one of the best ways to secure a favorable judgement is to judge others favorably. When God sees that we look past the minor negative aspects of others and focus on their positive aspects, He in turn does the same for us.

May we all be judged favorably and merit a wonderful year of personal, national, and world peace.