(lubavitch.com) Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez met last Monday with members and friends of Chabad-Lubavitch of Uruguay, headed by Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov.
At the meeting, Rabbi Shemtov presented the President with a Menorah.
“I told him that the flames radiate heat as well as light,” explains Shemtov. “This teaches us that one can impact his surroundings in two ways: One, through power, much like the power wielded by the heat of the fire. And two, through influence, like the influence of the light of a candle. There are different stages in a person’s life when he can do one more than the other.”
President Vazquez’s term ends in March, when Shemtov expects that “he will move from a stage of power, to one of more influence.”
“Teaching religious values in a secular country is like trying to light a match under water,” Shemtov told the president.
Vasquez insisted that secularism “does not come to fight religious values, but rather to allow them to exist freely.”
Rabbi Shemtov, Chabad representative to Uruguay since 1985, has met with every president of the country. He was gratified, he told Vazquez, that despite Uruguay’s extremely secular attitude towards Jewish values and practices, he has in recent years observed an improvement towards greater understanding.