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Start the Healing

Friday, 6 November, 2020 - 2:16 pm

This has been a contentious week for the American public. No matter which candidate you support, there has been enough frustration to go around. The contentiousness has highlighted the ferociousness of the suspicion and disdain with which the sides regard each other. The accusations and attacks on the character and ideals of the other party have been elevated to a frenzied pitch.  

Take all of that into account. Reflect on how unworthy you think the other side is. Consider how wrong you believe them to be and the kind of destruction of our society that you envision coming from their approach to governance.

Now that you have really brought into sharp focus how deplorable and contemptible they are, consider the following moral dilemma. If you got word that G-d had a plan to rid the planet of the scourge of your opponents by bringing death upon them all, how would you react?  

We all share a forefather, Avraham, who was faced with this very dilemma. He was informed by G-d, that his neighbors to the east, the inhabitants of Sodom and Amorah, were being singled out for obliteration. These were the most deplorable people around. They were immoral on every level and by every definition. The legislated meanness into their laws. They outlawed helping others. They killed people at whim. The boundaries of morality within human intimate relationships were entirely eradicated by their society. They took pleasure in the pain of others. One might think that Avraham would throw a Sodom destruction watch party and dance a jig at the news.

Instead, he put his credibility with G-d on the line, to challenge G-d on the decision to destroy those people. He begged and pleaded with G-d to save them. Ultimately the judgement of the True Judge prevailed and they were destroyed. But Avraham goes down in history of the one who was willing to stand up and express concern even for people that were most contemptible by all standards.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. No matter what we think of the other side, they don’t sink anywhere close to the depths of depravity that was Sodom. Let’s emulate our father Avraham. Take the opportunity to reach out in true friendship to someone from the other side. Express empathy with their way of thinking even while disagreeing with them. We cannot wait for the people at the top of the ideology camps to do this for us. While that would be nice, it is unlikely. But for us regular rank and file folks, let’s begin a grass roots movement of caring for each other even when we don’t think much of the other person’s ideals. If each of us made this move, you would shocked how quickly the fissures in our society can begin to heal in a meaningful way.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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