I am struggling, my friends. There is simply no other way to put it. The divide between people is so strong right now, so depressing. But seeing it amongst ourselves has put me even more on edge. now we seem to be ignoring the most basic tenants of Judaism. If anyone should be leading the way to come together with love and compassion, it should be the Jews.
This was what always made me so proud to be Jewish. As I studied more and learned more, my love for Judaism became even stronger. The lessons in the Ten Commandments became universal. As did so many teachings from Torah and Talmud. What is in our books actually makes a difference to people everywhere, all over the world.
I think we need a reminder.
“In Jewish teaching compassion is among the highest of virtues, as its opposite, cruelty, is among the worst of vices. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the people from the north country who ‘lay hold on bow and spear, they are cruel, and have no compassion’ (Jeremiah 6:21)” (My Jewish Learning). Yet those on the right mock those on the left, and those on the left mock those on the right. And not just mocking, but violent anger.
I see what is happening in Brooklyn, and I hear from a friend on the ground what is happening in Israel and within the Haredi community. It is breaking my heart… and is pitting Jew against Jew. And yet in Israel, they are united, for the most part, on fighting Covid. The government has come together. We all need to come together.
But people are forgetting that. Jewish reporters have been attacked in both Brooklyn and in communities in Israel. And while I desperately want to return to life as it was… my regular Friday night services at Shul… my Mensch Club… my gatherings… we need to realize the single most important thing right now is in being safe and in being alive.
Because LIFE in Judaism is everything. This means being smart, following the health guidelines, wearing a mask. Hashem created us, and thus he created our technologies, our medicine, our guidelines… everything…
“Jews believe that humans were made as part of God’s creation and in God’s image. Therefore, human life should be valued and considered as sacred and God-given. Due to these attitudes towards the sanctity of life, Jews believe that only God can give life, and only God should take life away.” (“The Origin and Value of Human Life,” BBC.co.uk)
“The soul of man is a lamp of G‑d.”
“And let not your impulse assure thee that the grave is a place of refuge for you; for against your will were you formed, against your will were you born, against your will you live, against your will you will die, and against your will you will give an account and reckoning before the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.” – Pirkei Avos, 4:22
Anyone who destroys a human life is considered as if he had destroyed an entire world, and anyone who preserves a human life is considered to have preserved an entire world.” – Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a)
The way to control the pandemic is to control our behavior. Yes, man has free will… but putting our lives and those of our family, friends and strangers as the utmost priority must be the most important thing we do. Jews believe in the sanctity of life. Period.
Forget politics, my friends. Forget rhetoric, my friends. Forget left, forget right. Remember Judaism. Remember acts of charity and kindness.
Remember G-d is science and science is G-d, because G-d is EVERYTHING!
Life is EVERYTHING.
Socially distance yourself. Wear a mask. Be smart. Judaism teaches us to say L’Chaim… but in order to say it, we need to do it…
Live and take care of your fellow human.
“That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.” – Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a
To life… to life… to life!!!