June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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How often do we read or hear a quote from an interview from which we draw a strong opinion, only to find out later that the quote was taken out of context? Then, when we hear or read the full quote, we realize that our conclusions were completely mistaken. A quote taken out of context can make all the difference in one’s opinion about world events and politics. How much is world perception falsely influenced by the media’s repeated “editing” of quotes by Israeli/Jewish leaders? Beyond that, it also affects our spiritual perceptions as well.

I would like to share three examples where often only the first part of a text is quoted, which completely alters its intended meaning:

1. Before the fall of the Iron Curtain, when there were heroic efforts by world Jewry to exert pressure on Russia to free their trapped Jews, the slogan used was: “Let my people go!” It was based on Moshe Rabbeinu’s repeated demand to Pharaoh that he free the hapless Jewish slaves from the miserable Egyptian servitude. But the truth is that the slogan left out was, perhaps, the most important component of Moshe’s demand, “Send out my nation, so that they will serve Me.”

Immediately after leaving Egypt, the young nation began preparing for its acceptance of the Torah at Sinai. Indeed, every year, on the second night of Pesach, we immediately begin counting the Omer in anticipation of our reacceptance of the Torah. Exodus without acceptance of Torah was—and is—futile for a Jew.

2. In regards to education, the pasuk from Mishlei (22:6) is often quoted: “Chanoch lina’ar al pi darko—educate a child according to his way.” But the latter half of the verse is often neglected: “… gam ki yazkin lo yasur mimenu—even when he becomes old, he will not deviate from it.”

Education is not just about compliance, but about instilling values into our children’s souls, so that it becomes part of them for life.

It is all too easy for a parent/teacher to become caught up in the heat of the moment, and to focus on the short-term issue, and lose sight of the long-term education that needs to occur. In fact, parents need to constantly take stock of each of their children’s growth, and contemplate whether they—as parents—are doing enough to build and foster the innate uniqueness of their child.

3. Much of secular Jewry has adopted the term “tikkun olam—rectification of the world” as their banner. The problem is that they have neglected the two subsequent words: “b’malchus Shakkai.” We pray for the rectification of the world “within the kingship of God” (represented by the name “Shakkai” which connotes limitations).

We cannot decide how we feel the world ought to be rectified. The Torah has already provided us with the guidance of how to do so. If one casts off the Torah’s yoke and decides that ecology and nature-loving is more important than Torah and mitzvah observance, his well-meaning efforts to rectify the world are, in fact, accomplishing the opposite.

It’s been said that a little knowledge is very dangerous. We need to know the whole truth, if we want to uncover nothing but the truth.


Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, and an experienced therapist, recently returning to seeing clients in private practice, as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments Rabbi Staum can be reached at 914-295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivating speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience. Rabbi Staum can be reached at [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info.

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