April 23, 2024
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Celebrating the Life of Rabbi Sacks, zt”l

This past Sunday was the shloshim for Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l. To the extent you have not yet watched the shloshim tribute video, I urge you to do so (available at https://rabbisacks.org/shloshim). In this age of skepticism and cynicism, of anger and conflict, the tribute video offers us hope and promise. Of all the speeches and tributes, I found the clips of Rabbi Sacks’ speeches to be the most powerful and inspiring.

What I admire most about Rabbi Sacks was his courage—his courage to keep the faith, to celebrate and live it and revitalize it, and to share that faith with the world. Cynicism is so safe and easy; it is hard to be mocked when you mock everything else. But Rabbi Sacks utterly rejected that route. In a secular age, he pushed himself to be the foremost representative of our faith and our tradition to the world. He shared his message for no other reason than because he believed it was right and good, and because it needed to be heard.

I am often reminded of one of Rabbi Sack’s teachings: “For each of us God has a task: work to perform, a kindness to show, a gift to give, love to share, loneliness to ease, pain to heal, or broken lives to help mend. Discerning that task, hearing God’s call, is what gives a life meaning and purpose. Where what we want to do meets what needs to be done, that is where God wants us to be.” Rabbi Sacks heard his call—he found the place where his unique talents and abilities met the need that he saw in the world—and he followed that call with all of his heart, all of his soul, and all of his might, uplifting all of us.

While we mourn the loss of Rabbi Sacks, we must all hold tight to the hope that he celebrated and that was one of his favorite words. And along with that hope, we must all rededicate ourselves to the search for, and the pursuit of, our own unique calling: The place where what we want to do meets what needs to be done. The place where God wants us to be.

Yehi zichro baruch. May his memory be for a blessing. Rabbi Sacks—you will be sorely missed.

By Steven Starr

 

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