As you read this Kesher Quick, likely you have the news on your mind.
Yesterday was a day that contained a myriad of emotions, from rage to sadness to despair.
Existential superlatives are on people’s lips.
Is this a portent for things to come, the end of the American dream?
What do we make of the chaos that people would bring to the seat of our government, and how should we judge the elected leadership that empowers it?
How will this affect my kids and grandkids, my neighbors…and me?
When things get really tough, as a rabbi, I look to our wisdom tradition for guidance.
The first words of Torah, “In the beginning,” tersely relays how order was made from the chaos, giving levels of structure towards life.
Judaism is a religion that seeks to make meaning out of chaos though understanding, respect, and structure. Our mantra really is “l’chayim- to life” because that is what we seek to bring to our homes, our society, and to the world. For everyone, both length of days and the ability to really live, starting with ourselves but extending to good people of every faith, shape, color and location.
The enemy of this worldview are those forces that would move us away from ‘life’, towards anarchy, chaos, and destruction. Where we seek to build, they would destroy. Where we would build bridges, they would burn them down. Where we would aspire to ‘love our neighbor,’ they would sow seeds of hate.
The Jewish view of history is that, through the committed efforts of good people everywhere, we are generally moving in the right direction, but progress forward is hardly guaranteed. There have been big steps backwards towards the primal maw.
Yesterday’s events in our nation’s capital was a significant reversal from the sacred values that we hold dear, and that have served as a backbone not only for the Jewish civilization, but for America.
We have seen reversals before. Our response, the only response that we can responsibly have, is to double down on our efforts that we have wielded since “the beginning.” We counter chaos with order, destruction with creation, hate with love.
We learn from our history, even that history being created in this very moment.
May this Shabbat be one of peace for our nation, as we move through these next days and weeks.