Torah For Today: Captain Sir Tom Moore
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Torah For Today: Captain Sir Tom Moore

Rebbetzen Tanya Garber takes a topical issue and looks at an Orthodox response

Captain Sir Tom Moore
Captain Sir Tom Moore

In the week since we lost Captain Sir Tom Moore (pictured), what does the Torah say about inspiration and those who inspire us?

Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein was once riding in a taxi when the Israeli driver related the following incident:

When my friends and I completed our army service, we decided to explore the jungles of Africa. One afternoon, one of my friends woke up screaming. A boa constrictor had wrapped itself around his neck.

“We did everything we could to break  the snake’s grip, but nothing helped. Finally, one of the guys yelled, “Say the Shema!”  In sheer terror our friend started saying the Shema.  Miraculously, the snake released its grip and slithered away.”

When the rabbi enquired where this guy was today, the cabbie responded that his friend had become more religious after the incident.

“That’s amazing.” exclaimed the rabbi, pausing for a moment before asking, “And what about you?”.

“Me?” said the cabbie sheepishly, “The snake wasn’t wrapped around me!”

We encounter so many moments of inspiration that should propel us to new levels of growth and development – but there is a tendency as humans for us to overlook even the most powerful experiences.

Last week’s Torah portion described the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It was such a powerful moment that Jews literally experienced an ‘outer body’ moment.

The Torah portion of Mishpatim this week is one of the longest and contains more than 50 separate laws and commandments, including performing chesed (acts of kindness).

There is a strong juxtaposition between the lofty heights of Mount Sinai to discussing the details of daily living, teaching us that true spirituality comes through interaction with the mundane in an uplifting and elevated way.

There are some special people who don’t wait for opportunities to perform, but rather actively look out for them. This unique quality is described by the prophet Micha 6:8, “Do justice, love acts of loving-kindness and walk humbly with your God.”

Captain Sir Tom Moore epitomised this idea. He was a beacon of hope and a tremendous source of positivity and inspiration. Heeding the call to respond to the plight of the NHS under strain, he responded immediately.

We applauded him last Thursday night in recognition of all that he accomplished, as well as all those for whom he campaigned.

Captain Tom was a hero. Not just for the £33million he raised for NHS charities but also because he inspired us all. He demonstrated that each one of us can make a difference.

Like Captain Sir Tom, we, too, have the chance to create our own legacy and as he did, with small steps.

A kind word, a smile, a weekly phone call to someone who feels alone. Small acts of kindness are the very things that make the difference.

Tanya Garber is rebbetzen of Shenley United Jewish Community

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