Friday, May 19, 2017

Torah, then to now

היום שמונה ושלשים יום, שהם חמשה שבועות ושלשה ימים, בעמר
Today is thirty-eight days, which is five weeks and three days, of the omer
תגארת שביסוד
A day of compassion in a week of foundation

I think studying Torah is more important than ever during these days of turmoil in our country.

On Monday I had a discussion with a student about the discontent that came from the Israelites the moment they crossed the Red Sea, finally free from hundreds of years of oppressive servitude in Egypt. They so easily lose faith in the power that brought them freedom, with no faith in themselves. They immediately complain, "If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, when we ate our fill of bread! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole congregation to death." - Ex 16:3.

While the Israelites could be vilified for not looking at the events that just past; not realizing how far they had come; not appreciating the hope that lies ahead; rewriting their history to make the oppression under the Egyptians as an ideal--let's have some compassion for the perspective that they have, created by those hundreds of years of servitude. Looking at the situation through their eyes can bring some understanding of their reality, a place from which to find understanding of their actions.

Then it was time to bring this story to our world today. My teaching to my student was that we can't just dismiss people's perspectives, even as we don't agree. We need to listen and, more importantly, really hear through their ears, so we can find a way to civil dialogue and a find a way to move from conflict to understanding. Something very hard these days, but very necessary.

I need to find the hope that compassion can strengthen the foundation of our country and our lives.

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