A MESSAGE FROM THE RABBI
Every morning we say a specific Psalm for that Day of the week. It is a meaningful part of the daily service because it is a reminder of where we are, not just in the service, but also in the week and in our lives. Each day is new and distinct, and we are required to address the issues of that day. The Psalm for Tuesday (82), leapt off the page at me this week. It says, in part:
God rises in the court of the mighty,
Pronouncing judgment over judges:
“How long will you pervert justice?
How long will you favor the wicked?”
“Champion the weak and the orphan;
uphold the downtrodden and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
Save them from the grip of the wicked.”
That there is wickedness in this world is incontestable. We, Jews, know what wickedness is. We have been the victims of it for over two thousand years.
When an officer of the law unnecessarily kills a black man, as others are watching, and when that officer does not look as if he is breaking a sweat, that is wicked.
When thousands of innocent storeowners have the sources of their livelihood looted and razed to the ground, that is wicked.
When Synagogues and churches are defaced and set ablaze, that is wicked.
When police are shot, stabbed, and run over, that is wicked.
The people who committed these acts are wicked. Yes, there is wickedness in the world.
How could someone look at the television over the last 2 weeks and not scream out in anguish. Lives have been taken. Businesses, already ruined by the quarantine, have been decimated. A country is in turmoil.
It is for just this reason that God took us out of Egypt. As God reminded us in Leviticus 19:2: “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” We need to help the world get to a better place; each of us. It is as simple as that. We each need to search for the best way to address this task. This is a truth that we need to face.
I believe the task begins with a piece of text from this week’s Torah portion, Naso. The task begins by being blessed and by giving a blessing. The Levites blessed our ancestors, our parents blessed us, and we bless our children:
Y’verekh’kha Adonai v’yish-m’rekha May the Lord bless and protect you;
Ya-eir Adonaid panav eilekha vikhuneka May the Lord’s spirit shine upon you;
Yisa Adonai panav eilekha May the Lord’s spirit shine upon you V’yeseim lejha Sh and grant you peace.
The path to healing this world begins with a blessing. Accept a blessing and give a blessing. Bless your family, bless your friend, bless your neighbor, bless your community, bless your country, bless your homeland, bless the weak, bless the orphan, bless the downtrodden, bless the destitute, and bless God.
A blessing may protect. A blessing may cause God to be near. But the purpose of the blessing is to send us, with strength, on the journey upon which we seek to embark. And, in the end, what we all seek, what the blessing is meant to be, is the first step in bringing all of us peace. May it happen in our time. Amen.
Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Michael S. Jay