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Jewish Journal

Civil War for the Soul

by Beit T'shuvah

July 26, 2013 | 11:21 am

By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

I have been engaged in a great civil war, most of my life. I call this a civil war because it is a war I fight, or give in to, each day inside of me. It is a war for and of my soul. It is a war for living decently and doing the next right thing. It is a war for not "losing it" and becoming bombastic. It is a war for the "both/and" of life.

Last night I had the honor of leading a Minyan (prayer service) for Robert "Bobby" Rosen. Bobby was a man I knew, not a famous man, and a REAL man! He embraced everyone, didn't care about fame or fortune. He didn't care about anything except being a decent person who truly, as we are taught, loved his neighbor as he loved himself. He treated the stranger well and cared for all he encountered. At a memorial celebrating his life, in Florida where he lived, people from all walks of life attended and spoke stories of his warmth and kindness. I was reminded of my father and grandfathers and those generations of men who just embraced life and people. Bobby taught us all how to live well by the way he lived. His children and grandchildren extolled him in life and in death. They honor him by living his principles and values.

Thinking about Bobby brought me to the realization of this civil war that I am engaged in. I don't embrace everyone, unfortunately. I get bombastic and angry at people instead of embracing them. When this happens, I am losing this civil war. "But you are a Rabbi," people say to me. This is true and I am a human being. Bobby's generation, my father's generation, is/was "The Greatest Generation" according to Tom Brokaw. Their greatness wasn't in their fame and fortune, it wasn't even in fighting the Second World War. It was in treating people well. It was/is in embracing all people as human beings. It is/was in setting the standard of living well through deeds of loving kindness.

I am made small by Bobby's kindness and his example. I am very emotional as I write this. I see how I fall short and how I hit the mark; it is simple to live this way and very difficult. Bobby, my father, their generation all rebuked people who acted poorly and did it with a love that made their rebukes feel like embraces. I realize, this morning, again, how and where I fall short and I am so remorseful. I am committing to do better, to embrace more and to not worry about being right. I commit to embrace the "both/and" of myself and everyone else more. I ask you to honor this "Greatest Generation" with me by embracing life, people, God and living well one grain of sand more each day.

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