“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor” Rabbi Hillel
Shortly after the murder of the innocent worshippers in Christ church, New Zealand, I was asked by the Burbank Human Relations Council to speak before the Burbank city Council. I had been thinking also about things that had been said about our people and what people were saying about members of other belief systems. Below is my speech before the City Council.
Madam Mayor, Members of the City Council, Friends, once again I come before you in grief and in mourning. Innocent people who were meditating and praying in God’s holy place have been murdered.
A racist, white supremacist has taken 50 more from us. How many more will die because members of other religions violently attack different belief systems as inauthentic?
A short few days ago, it was Muslim worshippers in New Zealand, weeks ago it was Christians in Nigeria, Months ago Jews in Pittsburgh. All of us must share some guilt when we only look at the shooting of guns and not the explosion of evil words.
Truly, we all know that the actions of those evil, cowardly attackers was not the beginning of their racism but, tragically for their pure innocent victims, the final act of bigotry before their death.
It is well known that the creation of our world began with utterances. “Let there be light!” And there was light!
The Bible and the Koran tells us this. It teaches us that words create. How we create and what we create depends upon our use of words. In fact, in Hebrew, the term ‘HaDvareem’, means both “the things” and THE WORDS.
Of late, people’s words have been harmful and hurtful and definitely hateful.
It is not enough to ban automatic weapons or to make greater restrictions on firearm ownership which New Zealand has done.
We. as individuals, must go to the source of this hate, HATE SPEECH ! When you practice hate speech you, in essence, arm those with the power to destroy lives, not just with bullets but with words.
We were always taught that ACTIONS Speak Louder Than Words!
That is NOT true. In this age of instant communication Words speak out much louder. In New Zealand 50 innocent souls were killed in a matter of minutes, NOW thousands, maybe millions of sinful souls, see and hear the awesome and awful power of HATE. We must do more than just outlaw tools of physical murder, we must ascend to forbidding SYLLABLES that destroy souls. In the Jewish Prayer book is a unique prayer. Unique because it refers to God as my God_”Elohi”, not our God, “Elohainu”, a rarity in the Jewish religion. Why?
Because it is so important that each of us takes full responsibility for our own words!
The prayer begins “MY GOD guard my tongue from evil. And my lips from speaking guile”
It ends, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer”.
Not once, but twice we appeal to God to help us speak in a loving, caring MANNER.
I IMPLORE ALL OFUS HERE AND THOSE WATCHING AND LISTENING TO SPREAD THE WORD. Hate speech MUST END.
Every day I pray to guard my words! Let us all vow to do the same.
Just this morning I saw a photograph of Mucad Ibrahim, the three year old Somali young man who was about to worship with his father and brother, when the gunman entered the mosque. He ran to greet the gunman unaware that his actions would lead to his death. He thought love! He acted love! And the results of hate destroyed his love.
Leviticus 19 says it most profoundly. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as you love yourself”.
We must do this every moment of every day. If you cannot do it for yourself ,do it in honor of the two off duty rural patrolmen who crashed their car into the gunman’s and took him into custody. They did it for strangers. We MUST do love for the CHILDREN, both ours and the children we may never know. For the Mucads, the Moshes, the Marys, the Miquels, the Amilia’s, the Emma’s, the Rachels, the Saras and the Sallys!
It is our God Given Task! Nothing is more important than saving lives.
The world today is one neighborhood.
God, please make the world more like Burbank.
B’ahava, Shalom, Salaam, Paz,