Why do we? Why don’t we? Why didn’t we?
No one beats ourselves up better than we do on our own. This Yom Kippur was particularly difficult, as I looked back at my own broken promises and short comings. How little I have moved forward from the previous year. And yet, the fact that I was willing to go there… to empty myself and take that honest look inside is powerful. But if we do not learn from our own lessons, perhaps they are not powerful enough. Emptying ourselves is the key… the first step… but we all need to be filled and fulfilled… We all need to act.
I became acutely aware of where I missed the mark and what I needed to do. The question now becomes, will I do it? Will THIS YEAR be different? Will THIS YEAR be the year I finally act and fully make the changes I need to make? I hope so. I pray so… and I ask Hashem to be my guide… to be my support.
Every day, every minute is a chance to fix the things that are broken… to better myself and move forward. Every day, every minute offers us the chance to be holy. But it is up to us to imbue those moments… to stop and take them in… to humbly offer gratitude and thanks… appreciation and awe. We have been given a blueprint, a set of guidelines, ethics and laws, and actions in the form of mitzvot. But we need to take the prayer from our hearts and mouths, and put it into our hands and feet. (Thanks, Shlomo Seidenfeld)
We need to take words off the paper, off the scrolls of Torah and put them into the world. We need to speak them and breathe them, just as Hashem did… and realize this world was created for us, to find meaning and fulfillment, and above all, to be kind, to ALWAYS do the right thing and to ALWAYS makes steps forward, no matter how small.
There is a reason the Torah talks about Hashem breathing life into our nostrils… creating the world with letters and sounds. It starts with us listening and hearing Hashem, and then moving to action.
The news… the horrible, horrific and tragic news… from nature to man. It paralyzes us.
I have literally watched the news, tears gushing, and looked up and desperately asked, over and over… “Why? Why???!!!”
It’s the natural question. But it is rarely answered in a satisfactory way. So let us sit with this question for only a moment. Let our eyes empty of tears, our hearts empty of joy, our brains empty of logic.
And then find a way to fill them back up. With love and action… Rationale and reason… and better questions. Let those thoughts and emotions and questions have answers that move into our hands and feet. Move. Get up and move! Do it!!!
As Rabbi Paul Kipnes said in his sermon, instead of blaming G-d for the hurricanes, let us look at ourselves and what we have done to alter the environment. Or what we have NOT done to fix the things we know are broken… or perhaps the things that we ourselves have fractured and shattered. Let these incidents be a wake up call from Hashem.
As Congress debates health care from all sides, let us realize we are all on the same side… to fix and cure and keep ourselves and our fellow human beings happy and healthy, in body and spirit.
If we have the ability to pin point a bomb from a bunker thousands of miles away, surely we have the ability to pinpoint a cancer cell… a disease… and eradicate it from the human body, with precision and little to no peripheral damage.
Too often we ask, why did G-d do this? Why did G-d let this happen? Hashem is everything, so this is a logical question. But it also casts blame and denies our own culpability and responsibility.
And too often… WE KNOW WHY!!!
We are partners. The world was created for us. We have Free Will. Therefore, what have we done in all of this? What is our part?
Why was the infrastructure so weak in places? What can we do to fix that?
Why do people so easily get guns? What did we miss? How do we prevent another tragedy?
Why do good things happen to bad people? This is the main “why” I suppose. Books and sermons have been written on this question. Debates and deliberations are consumed with it.
It is the main reason why so many question the existence of G-d.
And it is not easy to say that there are things we do not yet understand, and may never understand in this world. It is not easy to give up and give in to uncertainty. Humans have a need to know… a need to feel in control.
And that is the irony, isn’t it? We need to be humble… to realize with complete faith that Hashem knows best… that there are things much bigger than us and they are things we cannot possibly understand… things we cannot answer when others ask us why. We are NOT IN CONTROL, and yet we do have control… or at least some measure of it.
In fact “why” might not be such a great question after all. It forces us to think and contemplate, but maybe not to act.
“Why are we here?
Because we’re here.
Roll the bones.
Why does it happen?
Because it happens.
Roll the bones.”
(“Roll The Bones” by Rush. Lyrics by Neil Heart)
Far too often the answer to this question is “I don’t know” or “because,” and that does not always serve us so well.
And even worse sometimes, is what I said before… That we KNOW WHY! And yet… we do nothing.
Knowing and saying nothing is criminal. Knowing why and doing nothing is shameful and makes us guilty and conspiratorial. This is not us serving Hashem or the world…
Please keep this in mind…
What? How? When?
Perhaps these are better questions to ask. Ones that move us forward and spur us into real action
What can we do?
How can we help? How do we move forward? How do we do the right thing? How do we make the changes we need to make?
When can we do it?
What, how and when are the questions of plans and action… of doing…
We may never understand why, or maybe we know exactly why and are too afraid to act… too hesitant to do what needs to be done. So let us ask the hard questions… the ones that help us truly learn and grow and act and move forward.