Darfur and the Silent Voices of Suffering
Rabbi Billy Dreskin will fast for the 24 hours leading up to Rosh Hashanah, as part of the Fast for Darfur program. For Rabbi Dreskin, whose son, Jonah, died tragically just a few months ago, the plight of the population in Darfur is both remote and personal:
I will always cry for Jonah, that is for certain. But what seems like a lifetime ago, I used to also cry for the people of Darfur. Now, six months after I bid farewell to my own child, I am once again able to think of children elsewhere, of other families that are suffering horrendous grief. For this reason, beginning at sundown this evening, I will participate in a 24-hour Fast for Darfur. This seems like the proper moment for me to do this. Rosh Hashanah represents new beginnings. In some small but meaningful way, speaking out for this beleaguered, helpless people — who still await the world’s stopping the crimes of humanity being perpetrated against them — is my way of beginning to live again. I doubt it will stop my tears for Jonah, but maybe it will help move forward a process that will keep other parents from shedding tears for their own child.
I’m reminded of the line in Unetaneh Tokef that references the Biblical kol d’mamah daka, variously “still, small voice” or “small voice of silence.” “Let the great shofar be sounded, and let the small voice of silence be heard,” the prayer reads.
This Rosh Hashanah, as I hear the sound of the shofar, I will listen for the voices of silent suffering around the world. And during the coming year — taking my cue from Unetaneh Tokef — I will do my best to make sure those voices are heard and never ignored.
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- The Bible Doesn't Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings (2016, St. Martin's Press)
- The Bible's Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible (2014, St. Martin's Press)
- And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning (2010, St. Martin's Press)
- In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language (2004, NYU Press)
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- TEDx Talk: "Bible Translation and the Next Generation" (Video)
- Why I Allow Cell Phones in My Classes
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