One Friday afternoon, the second grade class was about to celebrate Shabbat with the customary candles, challah, and grape juice. As is wont to happen when 21 second-graders are crowded around a small table, one child accidentally bumped into another and spilled his grape juice. What happened next awakened me to the presence of holiness.
On this Veterans Day, as you say Sh’ma, remember that someone else screamed “Airborne” as he jumped out of an airplane over Fort Bragg, North Carolina or Fort Benning, Georgia, so that you could utter our highest prayer. As you say Oseh shalom, someone else is shouting “Climb to Glory” (10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York) in Afghanistan.
Abraham successfully advocates for the sparing of Sodom and Gemmorah based on only ten righteous people, tzaddikim. Although they are not to be found, our text can teach us about the essential qualities of the truly righteous, those people whose merit would spare two corrupt cities. The ten nurses, doctors, and health care professionals who make up the hospice team at Cedar Village, a retirement and assisted living community in Cincinnati, exemplify the Jewish idea of righteousness.