“Be a blessing.” That’s God’s instruction to Abram in Genesis 12. Whenever I read these words or think of this teaching, I think of Rabbi Alvin Sugarman. Many years ago he and I were part of a rabbinic panel at The Temple. Rabbi David Baylinson joined us as well. Each of us was asked to pick a favorite biblical passage to share. Rabbi Sugarman chose, “Be a blessing.” Over the years, I’ve heard him reference this passage on different occasions. When I read these words, I hear his voice and think of the example he has set for so many.
“Be a blessing” has come to be one of the most meaningful and omnipresent mantras of my life. There’s a simplicity and a directness to these words. At the end of any given day, it’s relatively simple to look back and ask: Was I a blessing today? When I think about it, the phrase, “be a blessing,” is the heart of every meaningful faith tradition and ethical humanist practice that I know of. It is simple, direct, unambiguous, and eternally relevant.
I recently listened to a lecture where the teacher suggested that the world hangs on a balance. On either side of the balance there are various weights and measures. Human beings are one of these weights. It’s up to us to tip the scale toward the good. It’s up to us to be a blessing.
A few years ago I had the fortune of recording an album of original Jewish music. I chose to call it, perhaps unsurprisingly, Be a Blessing. Here’s the title track, Vheyeh Bracha, that’s the Hebrew for, “Be a Blessing.”