There is a maxim in Judaism that we are forbidden from making an ‘empty blessing.’
Every blessing we make, say our Rabbis, must be followed by its related action. For instance, saying the prayer over the candles, and then lighting them.
An ‘empty’ prayer with no action attached to it is considered hypocrisy against the Divine.
And so, mere days after 19 fourth-graders (and two teachers) were gunned down at their school in Uvalde, TX, with many more hurt and maimed by a madman’s bullets, we once again hear pundits offering their ‘thoughts and prayers’ in lieu of action.
This makes me sick. It makes me ache. It hurts me in my soul.
What kind of America have we allowed to develop where this can happen again and again and again?
“Thoughts and prayers” are usually followed by the ever popular ‘moment of silence.’
I’m sure that the silence is meant to show respect for the dead, and empathy for their grieving families. But, at this point, it feels nothing more than a hollow gesture.
If all that we do is a moment of silence, if all that we can offer are our ‘thoughts and prayers’, then we are guilty of bringing an ‘empty blessing.’
We are guilty of trading in our moral responsibility, and our sanity, for a distraction.
At this point, I am done with the moments of silence. They have led to nothing but excuses and defeat. If they ever did, they no longer inspire us, or charge us up, or lead us to action.
Rather, I now propose that we begin commemorating murdered children with a shared Moment Of Screaming.
Imagine that…all of us together, crying forth our rage, our disappointment, and our bewilderment with cracking voices and throat piercing shrieks.
Certainly a Moment Of Screaming would better reflect the reality that we are dealing with, and maybe, just maybe, it would remind us that our voices can stir us, and others, to move towards a solution.
It is not too much to ask that our children be safe in their schools, and that we can be safe in our places of worship, and in our gathering.
When did we collectively decide to accept this brutal new reality?
When did our voices, and our footsteps, and our votes give up on a world where humanity could once again prevail?
Our Judaism reminds us that the world is full of injustice. Like it or not, evil does exist. But it also empowers us to speak truth to power, to challenge the status quo, and to demand change for the sake of every living being.
Kayn Yehiyeh ratzon-May it be God’s will …that we don’t just sit in silence, but use our voice to act.