I have been flooded by kindness. So many of you have sent me such deeply, compassionate condolences on the Rev. Tom Hartman’s passing. I am a man of words, but I have no words to adequately express my thanks and love to all of you who have reached out to try to heal me in my grief work.
You have not yet brought me to the light, but you have brought me to the time in the darkness when sunrise is felt if not yet seen. Thank you and God bless you!
Many of you also commented on my teaching last week that the translation of the first verse of the 23rd Psalm is incorrect. I believe it should read “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not lack,” not “I shall not want.”
Although want and lack are indeed synonyms in English, they are not synonyms in Hebrew. They are two entirely different words with entirely different meanings. The Psalm is therefore not teaching us that we should not want anything, but that we do not lack anything.
It is a Psalm that teaches us that what we want is hardly ever what we need. If there is a more important lesson for our materialistic times I do not know what it is. Thanks for reading and thinking so deeply about a perfect Psalm that deserves it.
Q: I’ve often thought about endeavors that are destined to become a lot more than the sum of their parts. When did you two know that the God Squad was going to be something special? – Flounder, Bakersfield, Calif.
A: Dear Flounder, I am only answering your unanswerable and ego puffing question because I want all my readers to think about, and pray about, what they are doing that is special in their own lives right now.
Tommy and I had the unique opportunity of having our friendship televised, and people wrongly believe that what is televised is special. The Kardashians are televised. I rest my case. Being televised just means being known. It does not necessarily mean being special.
When Tommy was well, and when we were speaking for charities, we were privileged to meet many untelevised God Squads who were absolutely special, but unfortunately un-televised. These were people of different faiths and races who had found a way to, as Tommy used to say, “look across the fence.”
These people were special because they were living out the God Squad message that we know enough about how we are different, but not enough yet about how we are all the same.
So, if I had to pick a moment when I truly understood that our message as the God Squad was both needed and yearned for, it would have to have been the first time one of those anonymous pairs of friends who had somehow found each other across the fences of prejudice said to us while smiling and holding hands, “Look, we are the God Squad, too!”
What I am also proud about in our work was that we did it in as pure a way as we knew how. We were not just TV guys. We never had an agent or an 800 number.
Through all the TV hoopla, I remained grounded as a working rabbi and Tommy remained grounded as a working priest.
Once a very cynical guy (OK, he was a lawyer) approached me and said, “We have been trying to figure out what’s your angle, and finally we figured it out.” I said, “Please tell me because we should at least know our angle.” He said, “Your angle is that you don’t have an angle.” In a highly angled world it is good not to have an angle.
We played it straight.
God I miss him.