The Road Less Traveled

Parashat Beshalach

Why does G-d lead the children of Israel to the sea, rather than guiding them down the well-worn highway?

Parashat Beshalach is unique in that it begins by telling us what G-d did NOT do.

G-d did not guide them to the highway that goes through the land of the Philistines, because it was close by – G-d thought that the people, upon seeing war, might change their minds and return to Egypt. Rather, G-d led the people by a roundabout route, through the desert by the Sea of Suf. -Exodus 13: 17- 18

Rather than guiding the Jewish people quickly down the well-traveled highway to present-day Gaza, G-d chose the less obvious route, leading to an eventual entry to the Land (forty years later) over the banks of the Jordan River. The text says that the children of Israel departed Egypt “fully armed,” and yet G-d led them away from battle. Why is this? It seems that before the people even began their journey out of Egypt, G-d already knew they lacked fortitude for the challenges ahead.

Much has been said about the generation of Jewish people that participated in the exodus from Egypt. Ibn Ezra discusses at length the “slave mentality” that left a generation of liberated slaves psychologically incapable of facing direct combat with their enemies. After all, it is this generation that later believes the bad report of the ten spies, and is prohibited from entering the Land as a result of their lack of faith in G-d’s promises. Later in this very parasha, these former slaves doubt G-d’s ability to meet their most basic needs – for protection from violence, water, and food – despite repeated miracles demonstrating G-d’s power.

Maimonides argues that G-d chose an indirect route in order to toughen the people and prepare them to enter the Land. In his Guide for the Perplexed, he says, “Ease destroys bravery while trouble and concern about food create strength. This strength that the Israelites gained was the ultimate good that came out of their wanderings in the wilderness.” (3:24) This would make sense, but for the fact that this generation of Jews never had the opportunity to exercise their supposed bravery. It was their children(who did not witness the miracles of Beshalach) who entered and conquered the Land.

It seems that G-d chose this route in order to demonstrate something fundamental about the way He works through the Jewish people and through history. It is not human ingenuity or warfare that produces redemption. Indeed, the people of Israel are given their freedom without the need to lift a single sword. It is G-d who turns the seabed into dry ground, who turns bitter water sweet, who rains manna and quail from heaven, and who routs the Amalekites’ attempt at blood sport. G-d admits that this choice has a didactic purpose when he explains to Moses that, “I will win glory for myself … and the Egyptians will realize at last that I am the LORD.” (14:4)

It often strikes the reader as a shame that the generation that witnessed awe-inspiring plagues and miracles struggled so vocally with their ability to rely on G-d for basic provisions. But it is not for our own satisfaction that the Torah itemizes their every complaint. Instead, the Torah reminds us that, regardless of our current position (whether it be characterized by relative affluence or relative deprivation), we remain dependent on G-d for our every need. Even those who are unburdened by a “slave mentality” are ultimately unable to accomplish anything of significance without G-d’s direct intervention. And that ultimately, G-d is working out His plan to redeem all creation through the trials and challenges faced by the Jewish people. By continually redeeming us, G-d tells the nations of the world that He is the LORD. Our highest calling as a people is not to toughen our own hides, but to place our trust in G-d. Paradoxically, it is through our uniquely vulnerable exercise of faith that G-d demonstrates His might.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Responding to Calamity

Parashat Bo

Last week’s Torah portion, Va’era, introduced the first seven of the ten plagues. This week, Parashat Bo identifies the final three plagues and records the mitzvot concerning Passover.

Each of these plagues are devastating enough on their own, but added up together you can see why the result was the dramatic climax of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Each plague is a demonstration of HaShem’s might and omnipotence. And what most people miss in the story is that each plague carries its own unique message, as each plague was meant to bring a direct assault against a different Egyptian deity.

“… and I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, I am HaShem (Exodus 12:12b).”

The Nile River in Egyptian mythology carries a sacred aura about it. It is the life source of the country. It alone represents life and sustenance in an otherwise dry and parched land. Blood is a symbol of death. Therefore the first plague represented a direct assault upon the Egyptian’s sole source of life.

The Egyptian deity, Heqet (or Isis), is often represented as a frog. She represents fertility and sustenance. As a result, the second plague of frogs was a direct assault against this specific deity, demonstrating that HaShem, the G-d of Israel, was more powerful than Heqet and that HaShem alone is the source of all life.

The ninth plague, darkness, was a demonstration against Egypt’s primary deity Amen-Re, who is often represented as the sun. Three days of darkness so thick it could be felt (Ex. 10:21) established that the G-d of Israel was even greater than Egypt’s primary deities.

So, you get the idea … each plague directly correlated with a particular deity or central tenet of Egyptian mythology. But the final plague – the death of the firstborn – was the most catastrophic. Pharaoh would not have let us go on his own. Sadly, it took ten deadly and disastrous plagues to get Pharaoh to let the Jewish people leave Egypt. Although the result of these plagues would be our exodus from tyranny, slavery, and oppression; we do not rejoice over the suffering of the Egyptians or the havoc brought upon them.

Wine is a symbol of joy. So during the Passover Seder, when we recall the ten plagues we deplete the wine in our cups by placing drops of wine onto our plate. When havoc is wrought upon any people – be they helpless victims or our enemies, we do not rejoice over their fate. Our tradition teaches us that their suffering decreases our own joy.

So although we do not rejoice over the fate of the Egyptian people, we do commemorate our redemption from Egypt. We also look forward to our ultimate redemption – when our Messiah, Yeshua, returns and ushers in the world to come. The Messianic Age will bring with it not only our redemption as a people, but a permanent end to oppression, disease, and the suffering of others.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Modern Day Prophet

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I have always admired Dr. King’s life and work. And of course, his words have always motivated and inspired me. In fact, Dr. King (in a very roundabout way) even played a role in how my wife and I got engaged. However, this year it truly hit me what lies at the root of his great legacy. Dr. King was more than a great figure, a great leader, or a great orator. Dr. King was also more than a visionary.

There was something much deeper which caused people to either admire or despise him. Dr. King was a prophet. He was one of our generation’s greatest prophetic voices in the line of the great prophets of the Tanakh – along with such modern giants as Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel (see our post, Praying With Their Feet).

If we look at the prophets of the Tanakh, their role was to call Israel back to covenant faithfulness, and rally against injustice and oppression. For more on this you can read my post, Justice as Holiness, Part II: The Prophets.

In today’s Charismatic Christian circles, people are all too quick to throw around the labels of “prophet” and “prophetic” without understanding what the role and message of a biblical prophet truly was. Often people get caught-up in the sensationalism of the prophet as a messenger of G-d. However, what does it really mean to be a messenger of G-d?

Let’s not forget … Dr. King was a radical and not so different from the prophets of old. Jeremiah was considered a nudnik … Hosea married a harlot … they too were often considered eccentric and controversial.

One of the cardinal lessons of a prophet is that they are not motivated by social protocol, but by the leading and prompting of G-d. They will proclaim their message despite praise or persecution. And that was certainly the case with Dr. King. Many who praised him at one point often despised him at others. His stance on an issue was based on his true convictions, not because he sought to be popular. And what many do not often discuss is the fact that Dr. King was clearly motivated by the voice of G-d.

Dr. King was a great visionary, a great leader, a great man … and a great prophet to our generation. And like the prophets of old, in his own time many heeded the call … yet many more were repulsed. It is only after his death that he is truly appreciated.

In closing, I’ll just end with a few of the most memorable quotes of Dr. King:

-“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

-“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

-“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

‎-“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”

-‎”Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

-“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Praying With Their Feet

Tomorrow, and really all of this weekend, we remember the inspiring legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his role in not only the civil rights movement in America, but for his contributions to humanity, and his leadership to a generation.

But why discuss MLK on a Jewish blog?

Many people today are unaware that Jewish individuals and clergy played a tremendous role in the civil rights movement. One of the most prominent Jewish figures in this struggle was none other than Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel – one of the greatest Jewish theologians of our time (Heschel is pictured at far left in the above picture, along with Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath (carrying the Torah), and Rabbi Everett Gendler).

In a tremendous article on the two great figures, Dr. Susannah Heschel (Heschel’s daughter) points out that “Heschel and Dr. King marched arm in arm at Selma, prayed together in protest at Arlington National Cemetery, and stood side by side in the pulpit of Riverside Church.”

According to Susannah Heschel:

“The relationship between the two men began in January 1963, and was a genuine friendship of affection as well as a relationship of two colleagues working together in political causes. As King encouraged Heschel’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement, Heschel encouraged King to take a public stance against the war in Vietnam. When the Conservative rabbis of America gathered in 1968 to celebrate Heschel’s sixtieth birthday, the keynote speaker they invited was none other than King. When King was assassinated, Heschel was the rabbi Mrs. King invited to speak at his funeral.”

For Heschel, the march from Selma had tremendous spiritual significance. Following the march, he wrote:

“For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer. Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.”

Here is also a great video clip discussing the special relationship between Reverend King and Rabbi Heschel (view HERE), and comments from those close to King about their relationship, and the influence Heschel had upon them and the civil rights movement.

And for more about Abraham Joshua Heschel check out this great video and article from PBS.

On this day, as we remember the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., we also recall his friend and colleague, Abraham Joshua Heschel – a holy pair who truly learned to pray with their feet – and taught others to do so as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Mysterious Encounter

Parashat Shemot

As Moshe was attending his father-in-law’s sheep in the wilderness, near the base of Mt. Sinai, the Torah tells us that an angel appeared to him in the form of burning bush (3:2). As Moshe approached the bush to discover why it was burning, and yet not being consumed, HaShem called out to Moshe from the bush (3:4).

This encounter between Moses and G-d is one of the most exciting stories in the entire Torah, and is rich with so much meaning and imagery. HaShem instructs Moshe to return to Egypt to deliver a message and liberate the Jewish people from slavery. During their encounter, Moshe asks G-d what he is to tell the people when they ask who sent him, and what G-d’s name is. And HaShem responds with one of the most amazing, mysterious, and mystical answers ever recorded – “Ehiye Asher Ehiye.”

This phrase, “Ehiye Asher Ehiye,” is one of the easiest, and yet most difficult passages of the Torah to translate. The reason is because it carries nuance, mystery, and an ever present reality. Many translations render the passage in the present tense, either as “I AM,” or “I AM Who I AM.” Many Jewish translations translate it in the future tense, “I Will Be Who I Will Be.” The Complete Jewish Bible renders it as both “I am/will be what I am/will be.”

The most fascinating thing is that they are all correct. The way this phrase is constructed renders it timeless and eternal. In Jewish mystical understanding, the phrase “Ehiye Asher Ehiye” can actually be translated in every tense, and in every combination of tenses. It can be “I am who I am,” “I will be who I will be,” “I was who I was,” “I am who I will be,” “I will be who I was,” etc.

My point in offering some various possible renditions of this phrase is not to place one particular rendering over another as a “more correct” translation, but rather to emphasize the point that all English translations struggle to convey the depth of the phrase.

The Midrash acknowledges this and also denotes that the word Ehiye describes G-d as timeless and eternal. The Aramaic Targum Onkelos alludes that this phrase is itself one of the divine names, for he does not even translate the three words into Aramaic, but leaves the phrase in Hebrew.

The response G-d gives to Moshe is itself one of the divine oracles meant to be a sign to the people. But this is often missed by non-Hebrew speakers. By G-d’s response, He is telling Moshe that He is in control of everything. That all is consumed in, by, through, and from Him. An answer that is just as deep and mysterious as G-d is. Yet, it is close and simple at the same time.

When we get into positions like Moshe, and feel overwhelmed, and that we can not possibly do all that G-d asks of us, we must remember that our G-d is not only a consuming fire, but is the source of everything that exists. And that nothing has being apart from Him. We must always be reminded of the assurance that through HaShem, we can do all things.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Special Course Announcement – The Early Rabbis

The Early Rabbis: Mishnah, Midrash and Mysticism

MJTI LogoIt’s not too late to still register for a special 6-week course on The Early Rabbis: Mishnah, Midrash and Mysticism, taught by Rabbi Joshua Brumbach. The course is offered through as special partnership with the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute.

The course will be offered online and will begin Monday, January 12, 2015.

Early rabbinic literature plays an important role in recording and codifying the development and formation of what would become Rabbinic Judaism, and lays an important foundation for subsequent rabbinic literature. Therefore the study of early rabbinic literature is essential for all students of Judaism. This class will explore the earliest forms of rabbinic literature through readings in the Mishnah, Midrash and early Mysticism – three distinct and unique textual traditions.

View the syllabus HERE.

Special tuition for the onsite class is only $99 for both credit and audit. This course is open to anyone and there are no prerequisites.

To register, contact admin@mjti.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revealing Mashiach

Parashat Vayechi

It can be said that everything written in the Torah concerns Mashiach. As such, how does this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, reveal Mashiach?

Continuing on the themes from last week’s discussion, this week’s Torah portion reveals Mashiach in two primary ways – through our final glimpse of the life of Yosef, who the rabbis identify as a ‘type’ of Messiah (i.e. Mashiach ben Yosef – b. Sukkah 52b), and by tracing the lineage of Messiah through the tribe of Judah.

Yosef personifies Mashiach as one who was despised by his brothers, rejected, and left for dead. Yet despite his trials, was elevated to a position of authority and became the savior of a generation. When reconciled to his brothers, Yosef revealed himself to them, and in this week’s parasha states, “You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good – so that it would come about, as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved (Gen. 50:20).”

Although Mashiach was despised by some around him, and treated with contempt and left for dead, his elevation through his resurrection has brought many people into ultimate redemption. And one day, Yeshua will reveal himself in all his glory to his people, and proclaim himself Mashiach.

The lineage of Mashiach

This week’s parasha also reveals Mashiach by tracing the Messianic lineage through the tribe of Judah:

“The scepter shall not pass from Yehudah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom obedience belongs; and it is he whom the peoples will obey (Gen. 49:10).”

The text can also be translated as “until Shiloh comes…” The term Shiloh has been understood within Jewish tradition as referring to Messiah. The Aramaic Targum Onkelos, followed by the famous commentator Rashi, render the text as “until the Messiah comes, to whom the kingdom belongs.” Likewise, another Aramaic Targum, Pseudo-Jonathan, paraphrases the verse as “until the time that King Messiah shall come.

The Talmud also confirms that the term Shiloh refers to Mashiach:

“Rabbi Yochanan taught that the entire world was created for the sake of the Messiah. What is His name? The school of Shiloh taught that His name is Shiloh, as it is written, ‘Until Shiloh comes and it is He whom all the peoples will obey (b. Sanhedrin 98b).”

 

Yalkut Shemoni, a medieval anthology, on this verse states:

“He [the Messiah] is called by the name of Shiloh because all the nations are destined to bring gifts to Israel and to King Messiah, as it is written, ‘In that day shall the present be brought to the Lord of Hosts (Yalkut Shemoni 160).’”

The book of Hebrews reiterates, “Everyone knows that our Lord arose out of Yehudah … (Heb. 7:14).” We have the assurance that our hope in Messiah is based on solid understanding, embedded within a Jewish context. Our Messiah, who descended through Judah, will reveal himself once again, as Yosef did to his brothers, and declare himself Mashiach. And it is through him, that we all have assurance of ultimate redemption!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Not always what it Seems

Parashat Mikketz

Things are not always what they seem. Often we make assumptions, only to find out in the end we are wrong. This entire portion points out that we have to be careful about jumping to conclusions. We can additionally ask ourselves, what is the connection between Hannukah and this week’s Torah portion?

The context for this week’s parasha is actually set up in last week’s portion, in Vayeshev. It is full of assumptions. Frustrated with their annoying little brother, the ten eldest sons of Jacob decided their brother would never really amount to anything, and that “getting rid of him” would never come back to haunt them. Joseph, although innocent, was also assumed to be in the wrong when accused by Potifer’s wife of trying to seduce her and he was thrown in prison. And although it was assumed the baker and cupbearer would remember Joseph, that was not the case, and Joseph continued to remain in prison.

Turning to this week’s portion, Mikketz, Pharaoh had a dream that was assumed to be impossible to interpret. However, with the help of G-d, Joseph interpreted the difficult vision, and in the end was appointed the greatest leader in all of Egypt, save Pharaoh himself. Some assumed Joseph to be just some cocky and arrogant little kid. But Joseph turned out to be Egypt’s greatest savior, and an official with limitless power over the future of a generation.

The Hannukah story is also full of assumptions. It was impossible to imagine that a small group of poorly prepared Jewish farmers would be able to overcome a well prepared army of Greeks, or envision the recapture of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Temple. No one believed that a small amount of oil used to re-light the Temple Menorah would burn for an entire eight days. However, each of these assumptions were proven false. This truly is the season of miracles.

Things are not always what they seem. A small amount of oil, or an ill-considered younger brother, both of whom were thought of as never amounting to anything, could just as well turn out to change the world!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Hanukkah: A Festival of Dedication

Tomorrow night (Tuesday, Dec. 16th) is the beginning of Hanukkah.

The word, Hanukkah, means “dedication” in Hebrew, and recalls the triumphant events of the Maccabees, and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its desecration by the forces of Antiochus and the Syrian-Greeks in the 2nd century BCE.

Hanukkah is first mentioned in the apocryphal books of Maccabees. According to 1 Maccabees:

“For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication… should be observed… every year… for eight days (1 Mac. 4:56–59).”

The festival of Hanukkah recalls two primary miracles:

  1. That a small untrained and ill-equipped army of Jews were able to defeat the mighty forces of the Syrian-Greeks, and;
  2. The miracle of the oil burning for eight days.

According to the oldest traditions of Hanukkah, the heroic acts of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple are the primary points to the story. Interestingly, the “miracle of the oil” does not actually appear in the apocryphal books of Maccabees. The first place the miracle of oil appears is in the Talmud (Shabbat 21b).

The Talmud states that the forces of Antiochus were driven from the Temple, and that only a single container of ritual olive oil used to light the menorah was found which still contained the official unbroken seal of the Cohen Gadol (the High Priest). There was only enough oil for one day. However, the menorah miraculously burned in the Temple for eight days (the exact amount of time needed to create more oil).

The Gospels record that Yeshua himself observed the festival of Hanukkah:

“At the time the festival of Hanukkah took place in Jerusalem; it was winter, and Yeshua went up to the Temple and was walking in the portico of Solomon. Then a number of Jews gathered around him, and were saying to him, ‘How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’

Yeshua answered, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of me … I and the Father are One’ (John 10:22-30).”

 

As such, since the days of the Maccabees, the Jewish community has observed the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is indeed a Festival of Light. It recalls not only our redemption from tyranny and oppression, but is also a story of hope and covenant faithfulness. As we observe the eight nights of Hanukkah beginning tomorrow night, may we keep in mind our role to also be bearers of light. For just as our ancestors, the Maccabees, overcame the forces of an enemy power, so too are we able to overcome the forces in life that work against us. For as Romans 8:37 states, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Tyrants and enemies cannot quench the pintele yid (the Jewish spark), nor the light of Mashiach within each one of us. As we commemorate the rededication of the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Temple), may we also use this time to rededicate ourselves to living a life of Torah, avodah (service unto HaShem), and ma’asim tovim (acts of loving kindness toward all).

We have an opportunity to shine even brighter than the menorah which once stood (and will stand again) in the Temple through partnering with G-d in bringing redemption into the world, and preparing the world for the coming of Mashiach.

As we celebrate Hanukkah tomorrow night, and continue through the eight days, may each one of us experience the tremendous light of this joyous season.

Happy Hanukkah!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Human Rights Day

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Led by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, 48 of the most powerful countries in the world signed this document, for the first time in history, agreeing on a set of common principles that would govern their respect for the rights of individuals. Included in the UDHR’s declarations were the following sentiments:

  • that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights
  • that a person’s race, sex, language, religion, political opinion, and nationality could not operate to restrict access to these rights.
  • That slavery and torture are illegal
  • That women are entitled to dignity, that we are not property to be bought and sold.
  • That people should be able to challenge their abusers in court … even if their abuser is their own government

Is it any coincidence that the creation of UDHR falls in the same year as the birth of the State of Israel? Of course it’s not just a mere coincidence! Let’s go back in our heads to 1948 … the Western world was emerging from the worst bloodbath of all history. 6 million people were murdered under the noses of the continent of Europe for the crime of being Jews … and nary a peep was uttered in protest by the citizens of Europe. Twenty million were murdered by Stalin. Countless more soldiers lost their lives in the two bloodiest wars in history – World War I and World War II.

And it was a host of “isms” that fueled these wars. Nationalism, racism, nativism, isolationism, Aryanism. In short, human nature at its very worst.

It is no mere coincidence that the state of Israel and the UDHR were brought to life in the same year. The Western world, in begrudgingly authorizing the establishment of the first Jewish state, and in enthusiastically embracing the principles of the UDHR … was attempting a form of penance, and carving out a new and hopefully brighter vision for the future.

But almost seventy years later, how far have we come? Does the world we live in reflect the UDHR’s vision for the future? Does our own government adhere to its principles? Sadly, it does not.

The genocide in Rwanda sparked an even more devastating conflict in the Congo (which is still ongoing), where six million people (mostly women and children … and a whole lotta refugees) have been murdered in the past 12 years. Genocide still rages in Darfur. Globally, it’s estimated that 27 million people are held in slavery – at least 17,000 of them are enslaved in the United States. 1 in 3 women faces some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime – rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, honor killing, female genital mutilation.

No. 66 years later, what has really changed? I’ll tell you what’s changed. Our capacity and our obligation to act has changed. The age of iPhones, blogs, “the internet,” cheap international travel … these things have brought news of atrocities, genocide, and abuses of power into our living rooms.

Fortunately … these tools of communication have also brought our living rooms into the global stage. As individuals, we have the power to speak up about injustice, to lobby our government for change, to pursue shareholder activism to stop corporate abuse, to send, with the click of a button, lifesaving resources and funds to human rights activists.

And as Jews, we have the call of Hashem. To seek justice, to defend the widow and the orphan, to free the captives, to comfort those who suffer … G-d commands us to act, because acting in the face of injustice is the only way to effectively remember.

Remember … we were slaves in the land of Egypt. Remember … we were pushed out of Spain during the Inquisition. Remember … we were hunted down in Europe during the Holocaust. And remember, that with G-d’s help, we have overthrown tyrants and established a home where we enjoy relative security. With G-d’s help, Haman was hung from a noose, Antiochus was pushed out of Jerusalem, Hitler was overthrown, and the state of Israel has survived for nearly sixty-six years.

Sixty-six years later, there is still plenty of work to be done. Let’s commit as a community to do more of it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment