We, as members of OHALAH: the Association of Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors for Jewish Renewal along with Jews everywhere, have been engaged in thinking about and praying to do better while the world rages around us: hurricanes, and forest fires not caused by, but exacerbated by human error, hateful speech followed by murder, peaceful protest vilified, suffering people belittled. We have seen a dearth of leadership on the national level. And, then yet another mass murder in the United States of America.
Our tradition teaches that God says: “I call heaven and earth to witness against thee this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou may live…( Deuteronomy 30:19)
If we truly follow the teaching from Genesis 1:9, that all humans are created in the Divine image, we must act to insure that our human actions protect life rather than threaten it.
Our hearts go out to all those suffering, our hands must become the “hands of G-d , to alleviate as much suffering as possible and to prevent as much future suffering as possible.
Our minds call us to organize locally if we cannot at this moment effect empathetic and responsible action from our national leaders. Specifically:
- Advocate for sensible gun control legislation.
- Respect for protesters.
- Waiver of the Jones Act re: Puerto Rico (through recovery and beyond).
- Waiver of restrictions for use of Food stamps for Puerto Rico.
- Work on your state and local levels to support the Paris Accord regarding climate change.
We learn from Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret that, “Natural acts of violence…result from a person having failed to develop his powers of restraint to the same degree that he has nurtured his passions; consequently, at the bitter moment when the beast rages within, he is unable to control it.1 This can result in grievous harm, but is limited and never justified by others, or society in general… The violence wrought by the lying mind is both more constant, more widespread, and more destructive…this evil, justified by the mind – political evil- has become the greatest destroyer on the face of the earth…… [it] is utterly appalling in its destructiveness: one convulsion, and immediately the earth is covered with corpses.”2
We grieve all human lives lost especially during these last few months and pledge to do better. We invite our colleagues to add what they are doing and suggest doing.
Tikkun Olam Committee, Ohalah: the Association of Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors for Jewish Renewal
1 Roots of Jewish Nonviolence, published by Jewish Peace Fellowship p.52. excerpted from a sermon entitled “Liberty” delivered on Shabbat HaGadol, 1906 and published in Musar Hatorah v’Hayahadut in 1912.
2 Ibid p.52-3