Are You Prepared To Kill for Your Religious Beliefs?

Sound like a throw away question? not really…and I’ve never been more troubled by the thought

I wonder if any of the Bible thumpers ( and I’m being non-denominational) celebrating the demise of Roe V Wade paid attention to the weekly Torah (5 books of Moses) portion read in many synagogues around the world Saturday past.


Amongst the many storylines, it presented, is one that has always bothered me. The text tells us that while in the wilderness “They” (not in the pro-noun sense) an anonymous group of Israelites found a “Man gathering sticks on the Shabbat Day”

The story is short. The same “they’ took him to Moses and Aaron and to the “whole congregation…our equivalent, I imagine of a Social Media Post that went viral.


Next they isolated him…detention if you will… because they didn’t know what to do with him.  Which, in and of itself was strange because God’s law was pretty clear on this….desecrate the Sabbath with work…like picking up sticks… and you get put to death.

Yet they were not sure. Some commentators opine that that they just were not sure of how to kill him….God does make it clear though. Stone him.


Yet what’s fascinating is that Moses must have asked the question and God answered by saying “of course he gets executed” didn’t you read the law? Finally, the people take him outside the camp, as ordered, and stone him to death.

In my view this is an incredible story for our time.

So much going on here.


The religious enforcement police….out looking for transgressors…found one….no discussion of why he was gathering sticks…maybe his wife or children were sick and needed the heat or warm food. Maybe he got confused. Or maybe he just gave up religion.

“They”, the anonymous holy rollers, take him to the seat of power and parade him in front of the people. No doubt they feel good…they lock him up. And then they are all flummoxed. Even Moses is silent.


Clearly (to me) the full implication of their zealotry has hit them…they….the greater they…need to kill him. Look around…how often have we seen this? When actors on some hate stage realize the full implications of their ideology…words and actions. Some back off but others embrace and dive in…DEATH TO THEM!!!! whoever THEM is to the “THEY”.

See the text. God is telling them…you looked you found…now the consequence is yours. Stone the fellow. Kill him. And they do.


Imagine if they hadn’t been out looking. Or if they had looked the other way. Imagine if they begged God not to kill him…or had just refused.

Seems to me we are standing at this same threshold today.

Laws are being passed that create vigilante enforcers. Religious groups, across the spectrum, feel the right to police their flock and often try to extend that behavior to others. Rocks get thrown…people get assaulted….reputations are ruined….violence becomes a lingua franca.


Thousands of years later the story is told of the great Chassidic Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. One Sabbath as he was returning home from synagogue he saw a man of his acquaintance…a Jew….a simple laborer….quietly enjoying a cigarette …clearly forbidden, on the day,  by Jewish religious law.

The great Rebbe stops…they greet each other….Chaim…the Rebbe says….Shabbat Shalom…you know it’s Sabbath right? Rebbe….how could I not know….I look forward every week….the one day I don’t have to break my back…..Chaim is that a cigarette?…yes Rebbe…he replies…I do love my smokes. Chaim…do you know it’s lit? Rebbe of Course I do…’s what I enjoy.

The holy Levi Yitzchak turns to heaven and says…God what a wonderful people you have….look how they tell the truth….I gave him every opportunity to lie and he never did.


As we face the headwinds of what is going to be a time fraught with opportunity to “stone those we see as transgressors” maybe we need to see them as something else entirely and thank God for our humanity.

About the Author
David is one of the most sought-after advisors; consultant; speakers and mentor in the global marketing community. David is also a prolific writer and published children’s author…”What Would You Wish For”; a designated LinkedIn Influencer, where he ranks among the most widely read business leaders in the world and a Social Activist working for an end to gun violence; hunger and in-equality. As Global CEO and Chairman of Y&R, David propelled Y&R to a top five global creative firm at Cannes, developed new resources and practice… Healthcare; BtoB and an in-house innovation accelerator called The Spark Plug….. expanded the global footprint of VML, and ultimately helped unify Y&R and VML into one marketing powerhouse: VMLY&R. All while evangelizing the spirit and competitive advantage of innovation and collaboration. David’s involvement in the advertising industry has spanned more than 40 years, clients ranging from Fortune Ten to day old start-ups, beginning at Y&R as a trainee in 1976. After his initial stint at Y&R, David worked at Wells Rich Greene before relocating to Israel, where he co-founded an agency, Mimsar, that focused on the then-nascent hi-tech industry, which was the foundation of “The Startup Nation.” Upon returning to the U.S., David joined the Y&R network once again, mentored by the late Harold Burson at Burson-Marsteller, and Cohn & Wolfe, where he led major accounts in Business to Business, Financial as well as Consumer. In 1990, he returned to Y&R to lead the global portion of the agency’s international Colgate-Palmolive account driving the first ever coordinated global launch of a toothpaste. There, he helped pioneer Y&R’s cross-agency team approach on the USPS account, transforming it into an award-winning industry benchmark. In 1996, David became a founding partner of one of the first digitally-focused omni-channel startups, Genesis Direct. In 2000, he took that experience to Wunderman…mentored by the late Lester Wunderman, ultimately serving as its Vice Chairman, helping them transition into WPP as a digital/data powerhouse, before returning to Y&R as Global CEO. Amongst the accounts he led and drove were Microsoft; Dell ; IBM; Altice; Citi-Bank; AT&T: Kraft and Pfizer to name just a few. David is active in the industry as former Chairman of the Advertising Council’s Board of Directors and, for many years before, a Director-at-Large of the 4As. He has served as Jury President at Cannes three times and was a member of the Titanium jury. He now serves as a keynote speaker at major global events, motivational speaker and advises industry leaders worldwide. In 2013, Fast Company named David one of the 10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of both UNICEF/USA and the International Special Olympics, as well as the Executive Board of UNCF. David is also a Board Member of American Eagle Outfitters’ one of the most successful retail clothing brands on line and off and was Executive Producer on MTV’s highly acclaimed REBEL MUSIC series. David and his wife, Debbie, have two daughters, two sons-in-law, five treasured grandchildren — Henry, Teddy, Gemma, Goldy and Sadie.

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