Voices of WRJ: D'varim

July 24, 2020Becky Markowitz

The words I’m asking you: did you put more love into the world today?

This week’s Torah portion, D’varim, the 1st chapter in Deuteronomy, means words. Words – the ones we write, the ones others say, the ones we say aloud, the ones we say to ourselves I hear them, do you? Are we listening? Words are so important in our lives and especially in the Torah. Rabbis, scholars, midrash, and commentaries analyze and scrutinize every word in the Torah and what the words are trying to teach us. Words and interpretations keep the Torah alive.

Today in our world, words are everywhere. Social media, texts, emails, on our phones, on our computers - we are bombarded with words. Are we listening to understand, to reply or not really listening at all? How do we make others hear us? Words and stories affect our lives today in what would have been unimaginable when the Torah was written, and the future will hold things we can’t imagine today. Although times change and with them, how we interpret words, it does not change our obligation to God. To act in a way that reflects God’s intentions as we are all created in God’s image. Put more love in the world.

In this portion we look at Moses’ journey – we have all heard the story – 40 years through the desert and they have arrived (GPS could have been so helpful) and Moses can see the promised land, but he will die and not continue on the journey. Our journey has taken us to unprecedented times as we are in the midst of a pandemic, confronting the facts of racial injustice, and facing the reality of changes in our society that must be made. It’s too easy to give up and feel discouraged – look for the good, stop watching and listening to the news and social media 24/7. What can you do to take action and encourage others around you to do the same? People are watching and listening to your words. Maybe 2020 is our wake call up and will lead us to the changes we need to see in the world. Put more love into the world.

These days it’s hard not to feel a little anxious and sometimes the journey seems too much.  I get that but then I remember the Survivor Tree. This beautiful, tall and strong tree stands outside of the 9-11 memorial. Rescued from the debris of 9-11 this dying and burned tree was found and taken to a nursery where over many years with loving care the tree grew new roots and leaves. It has been replanted and flourishes at the grounds of the 9-11 memorial, reminding us that no matter what happens we can survive, and come back even better than before. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival, and rebirth. And seedlings from this tree are shared with other communities that have faced great tragedy. Put more love into the world.

WRJ is using words to speak out, listening to others words, learning, joining with others and taking action, determined to not only survive but thrive in this new virtual reality we find ourselves in. We are finding new ways to connect and are willing to take risks to achieve what we dream. Put more love in the world.

As our journey continues remember that our words and actions have great power and can motivate, encourage and inspire others if we use them the right way. Bring your thoughts, prayers and commitment to change to the voting booth – join the RAC’s 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign, support the WRJ/RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Campaign – do what you can, what we need to do. Some may disagree, but I think our communities of faith need to speak out and be the champions for change! Using our words sends a message to others. This Shabbat remember to ask yourself – have you put more love into the world today?


Becky Markowitz is a member of the WRJ Executive Committee and the Immediate Past President of the WRJ Atlantic District. She is a past president of Congregation Shir Ami and a member of Women of Shir Ami. She is a realtor and lives in Newtown, PA. She has two wonderful sons, a daughter in law and granddaughter. She is a passionate volunteer and loves WRJ.

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