I was sitting on a bus today in Washington D.C. after having met with our two Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally. I had a lot on my mind when I entered the bus, but decided to find a seat. Perhaps a messenger would be sent to clarify the thoughts in my mind?
Divine Providence led a sweet older gentleman named Irv Rich from Massachusetts to sit beside me. I introduced myself and we began talking. I did not tell him my profession. My hat covered my kippah while my coat covered my name badge, yet, he figured I was Jewish like himself and that I too cared deeply for our people. After all, we were both in Washington advocating for the United States to continue strong support for Israel. So, Hashem’s angel, Irv Rich, gave me a message from Above in the form of a question. He inquired, “What exactly are our Jewish values?”
I got choked up but I hid my emotions this time. Irv was right. Our people are confused. The politicians are also undoubtedly confused. The doves and the hawks are confused. And few realize that we are in fact confused as to which values are really “Jewish values.” We have forgotten even in which publication to look for the answers, though the answers are often cryptic.
וְאַתָּ֗ה תְּדַבֵּר֙ אֶל־כָּל־חַכְמֵי־לֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִלֵּאתִ֖יו ר֣וּחַ חָכְמָ֑ה וְעָשׂ֞וּ אֶת־בִּגְדֵ֧י אַהֲרֹ֛ן לְקַדְּשׁ֖וֹ לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִֽי׃
“And you shall speak to all who are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with Divine Wisdom, and they shall make Aaron’s garb, for his consecration to officiate for Me.”
In our precious Torah this week, if we dig deep, we may find direction on the topic of how to determine our values. Only one man is allowed to wear the beautiful garments of the Great Kohen but many gifted individuals are needed to create these special items. The gifted people who create the clothes are called “wise-hearted”. The 19th century biblical commentator Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser explains, “Wise-hearted is a very high level... One who is wise-hearted is one whose wisdom is acquired by his soul and fills all the chambers of his soul... and there is no place found in his heart that is empty for desire, [an evil] impulse, and thoughts that are counter to wisdom.”
It seems to me that if endeavor to rid ourselves of confusion over which values are really Jewish values, we first need to assemble a team of people who are void of the evil impulse and negative thinking. Yes this is a lofty task! You and I can strive, though, to be a part of that team, channeling the Godliness that is infused inside of us. Purify yourself that you would be worthy to assemble the sacred uniform of the Great Kohen. You and I have a magnet inside of us that points us to this holiness. With wise-hearts we would have moral clarity to decipher true Torah values. And we would know the answers to Irv’s important question.
It seems that I traveled all the way to our Capital not only to meet elected officials but also to be challenged with a simple yet urgent question. I ought to start riding the bus in Tucson!