Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Who in this day and age is free of worry? Anxiety is at it all time high in this country.
And, we have a presidential election coming. We swing from obsession to disgust.
I have wondered lately if we transfer our fears and anxiety on to our two presidential candidates and on this coming election.
I wonder lately if all of our obsessive attention on the election deters us from acting in ways which will actually change our course for the better.
The power is and has always been in the hands of the people.
The great empires in history have thrived or perished based on the actions of its citizens more than the actions of their itinerant leaders.
We have proof of the same in our own history.
One of the many reasons we fight so steadfastly to maintain the sovereignty of Israel is because of her tenuous place in history. It is barely seventy years that we have been a sovereign nation. From the year 70 CE until 1948, we wandered from place to place; Pogrom to Death Camp.
The Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, respectively in the years, 586 BCE and 70 CE.
There were strategic reasons for our defeats. But the Talmud teaches that our loss of homeland was about more than military wherewithal.
The Rabbis-of-Old teach that defeat came not only because of our enemy’s military might, but also because there was something that went awry with our societal fabric.
They teach that we missed the mark in three areas. Three aspects of life that seem simple, but when we don’t fulfill them, we make ourselves vulnerable to defeat.
We stopped consoling each other during times of loss. We stopped rejoicing with one another in the times of our joy. We stopped understanding what it meant to disagree with one another.
These three aspects of our lives seem simple, but they are only simple when we fulfill them consistently.
The fabric of Jerusalem was weak and so she was vulnerable to the enemy. To be sure, the Jews of that time were outnumbered, but we did ourselves no favors by the manner in which we behaved towards one another.
Indeed, I think there is a lesson to be learned from our history as we wonder about the Empire, the Nation we inhabit today.
Let’s pay attention to national politics. There is a lot at stake. This indeed feels like one of the more consequential elections in our history. But, let’s make sure that we don’t allow the ridiculous nature of our political arena to inhibit us from doing our part in making our world whole.
We all count and we all play a part.
Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history.