You know I usually use this format to teach about some spiritual aspect of Judaism. But at this moment, I am a little speechless. After watching the riots on our Capitol yesterday and feeling the sustained tension over the election even two months later, honestly, I’m not exactly sure what to think myself let alone what to share with you.
But we need community and we need conversation so I’m going to share a few thoughts and I invite you to share yours.
First, I personally need time to reflect. Ultimately, we are responsible mostly for ourselves so I need to consider what ways I have been silent when I should have spoken out, ways I’ve “laughed it off” or minimized the dangerous trends I’ve seen.
As we say in Kol Nidrei when we annual our vows, language matters. What we say, what we don’t question, what we post and repost, what we believe without fact-checking, it matters.
Judaism encourages differing opinions and it models respectful discourse. For millennia, Judaism has survived precisely because of this core value. We can disagree vehemently, but we acknowledge the fundamental humanity and right to independent thoughts of our opponents.
Judaism teaches that small steps matter. We cannot change a whole political system, we cannot undue years of distrust and corruption. But we can do better in our own spheres. We can sit with our discomfort, we can initiate difficult conversations, we can be vulnerable and honest and perhaps shift our behaviors in small ways.
These are some preliminary thoughts on my mind.
I am so saddened that our world continues to be so broken. But I do rebound to hope and faith. Judaism is a tradition that encourages personal reflection, that teaches careful speech, that models respectful discourse and that always moves us towards hopeful, small actions.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught the religion’s purpose is to give us comfort at trying times and to make us uncomfortable when we are complacent.
I pray that we find comfort and also that we are moved into the uncomfortable work of real change.
Wishing you a Shabbat of peace and joy,
The Neshamah Institute
Founder / Executive Director