My Encounter with Bob Marley and the Riots

My Encounter with Bob Marley and the Riots

The first Rastafarian I encountered was Bob Marley, and I was mesmerized by his long dreadlocks.

As I looked at his picture, my mind wandered to Samson with his long hair.

Samson is one of the most well know biblical figures, perhaps because of his legendary strength.

Although Samson took a Nazarite vow to abstain from wine, contact with impurity, and cutting his hair, he understood that his strength did not come from his hair. It came from God’s blessing due to his dedication as a Nazir.

The word Nazir is mentioned in this week’s Torah portion Naso (Numbers 4:21–7:89). Nazir means “separate,” and the individual who took a Nazarite vow would separate himself from worldly pleasures and the trivial pursuits of society.

The secret of obtaining strength and power is not to crave it. In fact, true strength is not physical, as our sages say, “Who is strong? The person who controls his inclinations” (Ethics 4:1).

This week, I was horrified by the events which highlighted the injustice and persecution perpetrated against members of our society because of the color of their skin. We are all God’s children and should be treated equally with respect and dignity.

I commend peaceful protestors. However, I am disgusted by the criminal element who perpetrate senseless acts of violence and looting. Their behavior damages legitimate protest and demonstrates what happens when people allow their passions to take control of their senses.

The lesson of a Nazir, with his self-control, applies to all humanity. Self-control is a cure for many of the ills confronting our society.

May we soon see the day when God transforms the hearts of mankind (Ezekiel 36:26-27), so our inclination is to do only good.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz