A tribute to Rabbi Sacks
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948 – 2020)
The passing of Rabbi Sacks on the 7th November of last year, was a profoundly sad moment for so many people who admired and respected him around the globe. While media attention was largely preoccupied at the time by the outcome of the US presidential election, the world quietly lost one of its greatest and most respected religious leaders, and one of the most inspiring and influential voices of our time.
It is always particularly tragic when a truly special individual is taken from us before their time. Rabbi Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for over twenty years. But when he left that role (earlier than many would have expected), he wanted to devote his later years to a very important personal mission. He believed that the world was in desperate need of healing, reconciliation, and much-needed introspection. He would then work tirelessly over the next several years to convey his concerns, stimulate discussion and to inspire a change in thinking. But his overall message would also transcend the boundaries of the Jewish faith and reach out to everyone, universally. And this was just one of the reasons why so many people around the world would listen to him, and why he was respected and admired so much.
Rabbi Sacks shared his wisdom globally, through his many well-documented talks and speeches, and through his prolific writing too. In his recent book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, he urges all of us to take a serious look at the way in which we have drifted in recent times, towards a state of imbalance and self-interest. He draws our attention to a world, that seems to be moving further away from the essential values and selfless principles that sit fundamentally at the heart of all of the great religions and doctrines. You can listen to Rabbi Sacks describe his book in this one-minute video presentation here: Morality
We feel very privileged to have been able to meet with Rabbi Sacks and to play our part in helping to introduce his wonderful chapter to A Few Wise Words. I will always retain fond memories of the time spent with him, listening carefully to his gentle voice, while feeling completely humbled by his extraordinary intellect and vision.
And for me, it is perhaps the final paragraph of his chapter that Rabbi Sacks shared so beautifully with us, that will always remind me not only of his great wisdom, but of the generous and compassionate nature of a very special man…
The greatness in all of us . . .
And finally, just know that some little seed of greatness exists in all of us, and it does not necessarily have to be greatness in the eyes of the world. Sometimes one single act of kindness can redeem a life. Sometimes a single smile can rescue a person from loneliness and despair. You never know what the consequences of your next act may be, but people never forget a good or kind or encouraging word or deed. That greatness is there for each of us, and all we have to do is have the courage to respond and let it express itself in a way that only we can do, and that’s true for every single one of us.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks