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Jewish Journal

“You Shall Walk with the Lord:” In Commemoration of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

by Rabba Sara Hurwitz

January 14, 2010 | 12:53 pm

I was recently asked to recall my most inspiring teaching from our wisdom.  In light of the tragedy in Haiti, and hoe each of us can help, as well as the commemoration of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. this coming Monday, and all that he stood for, I cannot help but think of the teaching of R Hama son of Rabbi Hanina, recorded in the Babylonian Talmud Sotah 14a
I’ll paraphrase:
Our Bible teaches: You shall walk with the Lord. How, one may ask, is it possible for a human, for each of us, to walk with God? The rabbis in their wisdom explain that the way to walk with god, is to not physically walk by God’s side, but rather to emulate God’s actions.  Just as the Lord clothed the naked, as he dressed Adam and Eve, so too must we provide clothing for those in need. And just as the Lord visited the sick, as he visited Abraham, so should we visit the infirm.  Just as God comforted the mourners, as he comforted Isaac, so should we do our part in comforting those who suffered a loss.
The key to being Godly is to be a decent caring human being.  We don’t only strive to walk with God through prayer and song, although, as we know that uplifts the soul, but we walk with God by caring for all of Gods creations, with love.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr., in his lifetime, walked with God.  Yes, he was a preacher, and he inspired many through song and prayer.  But his most godly attribute was his deep sense of responsibility for others.  When Dr King died, On Tuesday, April 4, 1968 many words were said in his honor. But the words that touched people the most were spoken by King himself. A tape recording was played as part of the last sermon Dr. King made in his church:
” If any of you are around when I meet my day,…I’d like someone to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others . . . I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that I did try in my life to clothe the naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”
Dr King walked with God in his lifetime. And now, in his passing, his memory inspires each of us to walk with God as well.  To take a close look at our lives, and to think how we can strive to serve God’s creatures with love.  We must clothe the naked—perhaps by sending clothes to those who have been left destitute after the earthquake in Haiti.  We must visit the sick—look around this weekend, and take note of who are not in our places of worship, and visit them in their homes.  And we must comfort the mourners—reach out to those who have lost loved ones, and show them that you care.

DR King walked with God in his lifetime. He continues to inspire us to walk with God today. And it is easy to imagine Dr King at this very moment, walking with God.

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