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Shame

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21.09.2021

It was 9th grade.

Not an easy time to begin with.

And I was going to go on the Englewood bus to my high school in Manhattan. Englewood, NJ was different; kids had driveways that took several minutes to traverse; I lived in Teaneck and my driveway was two car lengths…small cars.

(Public Domain)

I was as nervous as anything. I got on the bus; the other kids were annoyed that their trip would be longer now that this new kid from the next town was on their bus. I walked up the stairs of the bus slowly.

An 11th grader started yelling: “Amelap; here comes Amelap!” I fought back the tears, although I had no idea what he was talking about. Days later when it was explained to me that my name appeared on the bus roster as “Amelap Lerner” since, for who knows what reason, the bus company took my name from my mother’s check which she signed Anne Lapidus Lerner, making my first name into a combination of Anne and Lapidus.

Things went straight downhill from there. The older boys then decided that my head was so symmetrical that they would tease me: “Roundy, Roundy!”

“Hey Roundy, how’s it going?”

“Hey, Roundy, how’s your head?”

And on and on it went.

It was ruthless.

They shamed me and I felt ashamed.

* * *

Our tradition has its own story about shame, which takes place at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple.

Explaining this disaster, the rabbis in the Talmud ask: “Considering that the people during the Second Temple period were engaged in Torah study, observance of mitzvot, and acts of kindness, and that they did not perform the sinful acts that were performed at the time of the First Temple, why was the Second Temple destroyed? Talmud Yerushalmi Tractate Yoma (Image from Amazon.com)

The Talmud says: “It was destroyed due to the fact that there was wanton hatred during that period.” (Yoma 9b)

And to flesh out this causeless hatred – this sinat hinam, they tell the following story about an anonymous man and two others: Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.

This anonymous man had a “friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza. The man planned a large feast and said to his servant: ‘Go bring me my friend Kamtza.’ The servant went and mistakenly brought Bar Kamtza.

The host came and found Bar Kamtza sitting at his feast. He said to Bar Kamtza: ‘You are the enemy of my friend Kamtza, therefore, you, Bar Kamtza are my enemy. Why are you here? Get up and leave.’ Bar Kamtza said to him: ‘Since I have already come, let me stay and I will give you money for whatever I........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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