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A message in light of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon

A message in light of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon

{D’var Torah by Rabbi Chaim Litvin}

Judaism teaches that there are three types of actions that exist in the world. Some actions are sinful such as stealing or murder. Other actions are mitzvahs such as prayer or Torah study. Then there is the third category of actions that do not fall into either category of sin or mitzvah. They are just regular everyday actions, what some might call the “gray area” of life.

Running in a marathon is certainly not a sin. On the other hand, running in a marathon does not seem to be listed in the category of Torah ordained mitzvahs. At least that is what I would have said until last Monday and the running of what will forever be remembered as the Boston Marathon of 2013.

I went to school in Boston just a few blocks from the finish line of the marathon. The Boston Marathon is a time of great pride in that city and is probably one of the most famous marathons in the entire country.

Sadly, the joyous celebration on Patriots Day was turned into a day of pain and mourning. Yet, the good people of Boston did more than just commiserate. Hundreds of people opened their doors to allow the thousands of spectators to rest, seek refuge, have a drink or a snack, or just sit down and try to regain their composure. These hundreds and thousands of random acts of goodness and kindness changed this marathon from a regular everyday activity to a holy day of goodness.

On May 2, Louisville will host the Pegasus Parade. A parade, like a marathon, may not at first be considered a mitzvah or a sin but rather in that gray area of life. This year Chabad will be sponsoring a float in the parade, which will remind all viewers that “random acts of goodness and kindness can change the world.” I encourage people to attend the parade and to show your enthusiasm upon seeing this positive message.

This past Saturday, in synagogues and temples around the world the Torah portion which includes Leviticus 19 was read. This includes the fundamental lesson for life that we are obligated to “love your fellow as yourself.”

April 28 is Lag B’Omer, a joyous day which celebrates the cessation of a plague that affected thousands of students of Rabbi Akiva in Israel in the second century. Rabbi Akiva was known to have taught that the primary lesson of all of Judaism is “love your fellow as yourself”.

Traditionally, Lag B’Omer is celebrated as a day enjoyed in the fields and parks with family and friends. Chabad invites the entire community to come to Anshei Sfard Synagogue parking lot that day at 10 a.m. for a chance to enjoy some outdoor activities to celebrate Lag B’Omer and to preview the acts of goodness and kindness float.

The only way to counter act acts of evil such as those perpetrated at the Boston Marathon last week is with acts of goodness and kindness and the like. As more and more people act in this manner we change ourselves and the entire world for the better.

Candles should be lit for Shabbat on Fridays, April 26, at 8:10 p.m.; May 3 at 8:17 p.m.; and May 10 at 8:23 p.m.; for Shavuot on Tuesday, May 14, at 8:27 p.m. and Wednesday, May 15, after 9:30 p.m.; and for Shabbat on Fridays, May 17, at 8:30 p.m.; May 24 at 8:36 p.m. and May 31 at 8:41 p.m.

Editor’s note: Rabbi Chaim Litvin, a local emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, has volunteered to provide Torah commentaries for Community.

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