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PC or PC?

Friday, 17 July, 2020 - 5:00 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Do you remember when PC was an abbreviation for ‘personal computer’?

I don’t think it was that long ago. Perhaps before smartphones became so ubiquitous. 

Lately I find that the letters PC usually stand for the term ‘politically correct’.

I am not sure if it is politically correct to comment about politically correctness. 

The last thing I would like to do is to come across having a stand, positive or negative on political correctness.

Perhaps this too is a sign of the pervasiveness of political correctness?

It is pervasive. 

I met a Jew recently for coffee. 

We had been chatting via email for a few months ever since he had a craving for ‘fried matzah’. (This is one of the miracles of Judaism. Culinary memories are more than just about eating. They help keep us connected to our heritage. Matzah, Latkes, Gefilte fish and Chrein have brought many Jews back to their Jewish roots). His quest for this childhood food, took him the Synagogue on Soi 22. He saw that it is under construction and headed off down Soi 22 back to Sukhumvit.

Draped on the side of Marriot Marquis hotel was a huge sign advertising JCafe and Kosher Shoppe as being just one block away. He got to JCafe only to find it closed. That is when he found me the internet. I assured him that while we are closed on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays, after the first days of Pesach the JCafe would reopen. To his credit he came again, but this time it was the last days of Pesach and once again we were closed. Finally, on the third try he got his matzah.

He wrote me a thank you and I asked him if he was Jewish. His response was not clear. That was a pretty good sign that he was Jewish. We met up for coffee. Yes, he was born to both Jewish parents, even had a Bar Mitzvah but was not very much in touch with his Judaism. 

As two fellow Jewish Americans we somehow got onto the topic of the future of America. As usual, I sidestepped any issues that could be interpreted as political.

I focused on the theme of unity and the commonality between all humans which should lead us to building a better society for everyone. 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once shared the following wish with New York City mayor David Dinkins:

“In the near future, the ‘melting pot’ [of America] will be so active that it will not be necessary to underline every time [when speaking of others] ‘They are Black,’ ‘They are White,’ ‘They are Hispanic,’ etc., because they are no different. All of them are created by the same G-d, and created for the same purpose, to add to all good things around them.”

We had a great meeting. He paid for the coffee this time. (I only agreed to that after he accepted that I would l pay next time 😊).

But I was left wondering about our discussion and the fact that I had really stayed unopinionated about the political discussion.  

Was I avoiding something I shouldn’t be avoiding?

It seemed to me that there is a certain wisdom in not being pulled into non-essential discussions and arguments that have the potential of creating a sense of alienation.

Fascinatingly just this week I got my answer. I stumbled on this interview with Dr. Velvl Greene (a former Fullbright scholar and a pioneer in exobiology. There are many fascinating articles by this Professor who was part of Nasa’s study regarding ‘life on Mars’).

Dr. Greene describes how he had written a letter to the Rebbe in which he challenged certain aspects of the Rebbe’s position on the Torah – Science debate. 

The Rebbe didn’t answer. Dr. Greene assumed that the Rebbe had conceded to his position. 

Dr. Greene continued his growth in personal observance of Torah and Mitzvot and the Rebbe continued his letter correspondence without mentioning the scientific debate. 

Only after a year and a half did the Rebbe refer back to his question and provide answers to back up his position. 

When Dr. Greene asked the Rebbe why he had held off on answering till now, the Rebbe responded: 

‘It is not my job to win arguments. 

My job is to present the Jewish point of view. 

To win adherents to the Jewish cause. 

If I were to take issue with you about that letter, I may have pushed you away’.

My dear friends,

It is within my mission statement to comment or debate every issue that exists. As important as they may be.

My job, as stated so succinctly by the Rebbe, is to be a spiritual leader and beacon of light. It is not to win arguments. It is to present the Jewish point of view and win adherents to the Jewish cause!

The Jewish point of view is:

To act morally and encourage all of humanity to act with moral uprightness and benevolence. 

This applies to all sides of the political aisle.

To encourage my fellow Jews to do more mitzvahs and benevolent acts.

Practice unconditional love of your fellow Jew.

Learn more Torah.

On the one hand I need to be unequivocal when it comes to Torah adherence.

Yet on the other hand, the other issues, I choose to remain silent on them. 

Not sure if that is PC or non-PC.

For me PC means ‘personal computer’.

And TM means Torah and Mitzvahs.

My job is to urge you all to practice TM

(Not transcendental meditation of course). 

I mean TORAH and MITZVOS!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS click here to watch R’ Doron Kornbluth’s presentation on the topic of Burial (vs Cremation). Some of his points included. Jewish Burial is the way to make the ‘final Jewish statement’. It is a more ‘green’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ choice in disposing of human final remains. R’ Doron mentioned an interesting statistic that ‘if every American citizen would be buried, it would take 10,000 years to use up 1% of the land mass of America’. The cost issue of burial seemed to be a great handicap. Here in Thailand we are blessed with a wonderful community of locals and visitors who have always benevolently provided burial for any Jew who dies here.

Click here for an inspiring story about a Jew who died alone in Suzhou, China and Chabad’s international efforts headed by Rabbi Greenberg of Shanghai to bring him to burial in Israel.

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