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Rabbi's Week In Review - 2/15/2021

02/15/2021 02:05:32 PM

Feb15

On a frigid, arctic winter day, some disparate thoughts that may somehow connect into a coherent whole. 

First, as I watched the proceedings in the U.S. Senate surrounding the impeachment of our former president, I felt the gut punch of how the events of January 6 unfolded. I had earlier in the week been a part of a group that met with Sen. Roy Blunt’s legislative assistant to seek his vote in favor of conviction. I told him that Jews were rightfully in fear of how the white-supremacist/neo-Nazi groups, who gathered in Washington on January 6, who stormed our Capitol and committed murder, were given a green light to do so by the president. An acquittal would further embolden them. The message of those wearing “Camp Auschwitz” and “Six Million Was Not Enough” T-shirts was unmistakable.

Although depressed yet not surprised that the two-thirds threshold for conviction was not achieved, I found comfort and strength in a story on CBS’ “Sunday Morning.” Author Suleika Jaouad talked about healing in regard to her own successful struggle with cancer. When asked how she felt about arriving at a place of healing, she responded that the process of healing occurs over the course of a lifetime. Likewise with the work of healing our country and our world, we engage in the work over our entire lives. As Rabbi Tarfon stated in Pirkei Avot, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it…” We give meaning to our lives and, in many ways, heal ourselves by the way we engage in the work of healing our communities, our country and our world. 

Finally, I learned of the death this past week of pianist Chick Corea. While I am apt to refer to him as a jazz pianist, he himself resisted categorization. In creating music, he did not want to put limits on his imagination.

This may be a stretch, but I do see a connection in the work of healing and the desire not to impose boundaries on our imaginations in doing the work. We need to remain open to new ideas and ways to bring needed change to the status quo. While the forces of hate, anti-Semitism and racism have been emboldened and given license in the last four years, they have been around for many, many years. The complacency that has allowed these forces to fester needs to be examined, and must be confronted with new ideas and a new commitment to justice. Only then will we be on a path toward healing.

Fri, March 5 2021 21 Adar 5781