One of the main features of the DeafPeople.com website is the "Deaf Person of the Month" section. It is full of "exclusive interviews with contemporary newsmakers" - the leaders in our deaf community.
Curiously enough (and clearly as a result of hashgacha protis - Divine providence), the man selected as the current "Deaf Person of the Month" has a strong connection with our parsha this week (Parshas Pinchas).
Gary Malkowski, known in the Canadian deaf community as a social activist, has for decades fought for the rights of deaf citizens in his country. Elected in 1990 as Canada's first deaf MMP (Member of Provincial Parliament), he served a five year term representing a district in Toronto. During his term, he helped ASL and LSQ earn official language status in the government.
Though he is not Jewish, for several years now Gary has also taught in the world's only Jewish deaf high school in Toronto, Yeshivas Nefesh Dovid. He continues to give a course in civics and government.
Gary has earned a reputation as a man of his actions; he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. He has arranged several protests in support of his deaf community. Rather than allow a situation to remain unresolved, he prefers to do something about it.
So, nu, what connection do you think this has with this week's parsha?
Parshas Pinchas tells the story of a man named Pinchas. He - along with the rest of the Jewish nation - saw the leader of the tribe of Simeon (Zimri) doing a terrible sin.
But unlike Moses and the other leaders, Pinchas didn't remain silent. He boldly stood up for G-d's honor, and he punished Zimri for his action. And for his valor, he earned the honor of becoming a kohen (member of the priestly tribe).
As you will see in this week's parsha video, there is an eternal lesson to be taken from this story. We can remain silent in the face of public misdeed by rationalizing away our actions - "It's not my responsibility" - "Why should I do something about it?" - "I'll let someone else take care of it." And we wouldn't be punished for it, either. (After all, it technically isn't our personal responsibility.)
Or we can take upon ourselves the burden of action. And by doing so, we will have earned reward exceeding the usual limits (click here to see this week's parsha video for more on this). It may be tough and (seemingly) unnecessary for us to do it, but the results that follow speak for themselves.
So Gary, in a way, is one of our contemporary symbols of Pinchas' courage.
Do you think you have what it takes to effect change in the Jewish deaf community and beyond? Then take a tip from Pinchas and don't hesitate to do so.