Be Yourself by Yoni Apfel


In Parshat Ki Tavo’s listing of the Berachot, Hashem says that He will affirm us as His holy nation if we keep the Mitzvot.  If we do this, the nations of the world will admire and revere us.  The Haftarah echoes this idea, describing how the nations will see the spiritual light coming from Yerushalayim.  But how are we supposed to be a "light unto nations” and show the beauty and truth of Torah?

Instead of seeing the greatness of the Torah and its values, many people, Jews included, believe terrible things about Jews and Judaism.  Many of us keep the Torah, but anti-Semitism continues.  We are an Am Echad BaAretz (see Rejoice O Youth, Rabbi A. Miller), “a nation unique in the world,” but how can we show it?

First, we must keep the Mitzvot, ignoring outside opinions and temptations.  Second, it is not enough to do the Mitzvot; we must also know why we do them, and we must love performing each Mitzvah (again, see Rejoice O Youth and other works by the same author).  Even more, to be a holy nation and a model society, we must really absorb the Torah into our inner selves.  We must be strict with ourselves, going beyond the minimum requirements of Mitzvot Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam LaChaveiro.  Finally, to be a light unto others, we must be ourselves and not try to mimic others. This is why we are not supposed to listen to most or all of non-Jewish and even some Jewish music (see Orach Chaim 560 and commentaries there)  [Editor’s note: also see Rabbi Jachter’s article on the topic at our website,], may not read and watch certain things that will affect us badly, and are prohibited from actions falling under the category of Chukat HaGoyim.  Instead, we should do Chesed, learn Torah, and show the meaning of being religious and the happiness it can really bring to our lives.


Raise Your Voice by Alex Katzenstein

Awe Inspired by Mr. Moshe Glasser