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Speak Up! -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 03/23/23

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

March 23, 2023

1 Nisan 5783

Parashat Vayikra

Just yesterday morning, the Summit Police arrested a West Orange woman for a hit-and-run incident that took place last week. A white SUV was seen hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene without even checking on the injured pedestrian. Thanks to tips from Summit residents (including video footage from doorbell cameras), the police were able to track down the vehicle and make the arrest. While the woman is presumed innocent until proven guilty, it seems as though the Summit PD has a pretty good case against her. And it’s all because those who had information about the situation were willing to share it with the police department. In this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra—which was written LONG before doorbell cameras!—we read the following: “When one has heard a public oath and—although able to testify as one who has either witnessed or learned of the matter—one does not give information, one is subject to punishment (Leviticus 5:1).” In other words, the obligation to share relevant information with the legal authorities about a public case is a very old one. Just yesterday afternoon, I was talking with our 6th- and 7th-graders about bullying. Of course, the best thing to do when witnessing bullying is to stand up for the victim of bullying. However, kids do not always feel safe doing so. After all, the bully (or bullies!) may be physically large and willing inflict violence on others. If it’s not safe to intercede, the next best thing is to share the information with someone in a position of authority—a teacher, a coach, an administrator, or a parent. It's not just kids who need to speak up, though. We all have an obligation to call out inappropriate behavior. We can’t just wait for the police to solve all of our problems. We have to take responsibility for helping to create the kind of community we want to live in. Shalom, RAF.

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