Tazria-Metzorah: Drs. King & Heschel z”l discuss Brotherhood in Heaven

Call me Veekoochee-el—that is a mouthful, for you Mortals, but it is just a whisper in Heaven, where I dwell. I am the Angel of Gossip, the one who gathers all manner of Slander, Loose Talk, Dust-of-Gossip, Vile Backbiting, and other Misuse of the Divine Power of Speech among you Humans—I pack it into my Sack of Thorns (no one can lift it, except me), and haul it before the Throne of Judgment. It is always very Heavy—Gossip is, apparently, the most popular of Sins, heavily indulged in by All—from Princes and Potentates, to the most miserable of Paupers.

“What’s wrong with a little Gossip?” you ask, and I say, Plenty. There is Gossip enow in the World today; Deadly Gossip. Gossip about Color, and Race, and Religion; Vile Talk about Nationality, Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong. People die for Gossip. You call it Idle Talk; I, and the Most-Holy-One, call it Racism.

“What shall we do about it?” called out God, the Most High, to His Coming-of-Angels, and I, being the Archangel-in-Charge of Gossip, was empowered to Summon a Council. Not of Angels; no. That would never do; we are Pure, formed of Heavenly Aether, not given to Slandering or Backbiting One Another—what would that serve, since we own nothing, and all that we endeavor, is to serve God with all our Being?

I therefore called upon two of the Mightiest Beings who, during their all-too-brief Sojourn upon the Earth, worked mightily to fight, overcome, and diminish that most-vile Sin, that of Racism: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, and Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, both of Memories Blessed; one Christian, one Jew. Two Friends, Writers, Poets, Teachers, and Saints.

Here is the Report of their Meeting. Read it well, and from it, may you learn, as did we Angels. Oh, and May God love you all:

MLK: I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. …People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.

AJH: We forfeit the right to worship God as long as we continue to humiliate Negroes. … The hour calls for moral grandeur and spiritual audacity. …There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty.The more deeply immersed I become in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it becomes clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, and that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.

MLK: We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

AJH: The sense of meaning is not born in ease and sloth. It comes after bitter trials and disappointments…. It is the marrow from the bone. There is no manna in our wilderness.Thought is not bred apart from experience or from inner surroundings. Thinking is living, and no thought is bred in an isolated cell in the brain. No thought is an island.Ultimately, there is no power to narcissistic, self-indulgent thinking. Authentic thinking originates with an encounter with the world. Human being is both being in the world and living in the world. Living involves responsible understanding of one’s role in relation to all other beings.

MLK: I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream—a dream yet unfulfilled. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

–And I, the Angel of Debate, Disagreement, and Ultimate Reconciliation among you Human Beings, was happy to sit between these two Spiritual Immortals, listening and nodding as they gave their Impassioned and Well-Tempered Counsel to Humanity’s Long-Erring Children, in the Departing Eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.

I beheld there coming another good Counselor, Kohelet the Preacher, he of the eponymous Book, and let him deliver the Closing Words on Brotherhood among Humanity:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

About the Author
David was born and raised on NYC's Lower East Side, and attended Hebrew Day School, Yeshiva Univ. HS, and Yeshiva Univ., where he learned English, Bible, and Jewish Education degrees. He attended the CUNY Graduate Center, and received both an MA and M.Phil. in English Literature, with a concentration in 17th Century, John Milton, and the Romantic Poets. David also received semicha/rabbinical ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY. He has also attended the Hebrew College in Brookline, MA, where he received a Certificate in Advanced Hebrew School Administration. David serves Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach, FL; prior, he served pulpits in Warren, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and Portsmouth, NH. He is married, with two grown children and a Shih Tzu. He recently published a book of his Torah stories, "The Torah Book: New Stories of Bible People & God."
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