Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
KEY TO PEACE
October 28, 2009
Reprinted from: THE JEWISH JOURNAL OF LOS ANGELES
In most instances, families relocate due to a measure of dissatisfaction with where they live currently and a degree of hope for where they might arrive. The Torah portion of Lech-Lecha presents the beginning of the epic Israel-bound family journey of the Jewish people. It is distinct in various respects from all other family relocations recorded in the Book of Genesis or elsewhere in the Torah. A journey that continues still today, it retains central purposes that date back to Abraham’s formative travels even as its unfolding, historic itinerary inspires travelogue entries and reflective commentary with each passing day of the Jewish present.
A comparison of all other family relocations in the Book of Genesis to Abraham’s formative journey to Israel reveals its uniqueness. The departure of Adam and Eve from Eden was at least as much about leaving Eden as arriving elsewhere. The builders of the Tower of Babel were scattered from the Babylonian region of Shinar rather than being sent anywhere else in particular. Noah fled the flood. Abraham’s, Jacob’s, Joseph’s and Jacob’s other sons’ journeys beyond what would come to be known as the land of Israel were initiated due to mortal dangers they faced living in Canaan.
However, Abraham’s journey to Canaan is not presented in the Torah as an escape from anywhere, for any reason. Its purpose is identified solely with the merits and blessings associated with its commanded destination.
To ensure that Abraham, his descendants and all who would later read this story understood the unique purpose of Abraham’s relocation-journey and its enduring implications, God pronounced to Abraham that his descendants’ destiny would be bound inextricably and forever to the special land to which God would guide him and that great blessing would accompany this bond. To ensure that the precise territory constituting the Israel that would exist was just as unambiguous, God articulated the territory’s borders and had Abraham walk the entire land.
Ever since, the Jewish people have been bound to the land of Israel as heirs to God’s promises and blessings to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their families. Jews have lived in Israel, with a continuous presence, for at least 2,500 years, possibly dating back as far as the time of Joshua. And, the Israel in which Jews have resided throughout most of this period — the same Israel promised biblically to our forbears — includes Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus and Ramallah, areas assumed by many to constitute the heart of a future Palestinian state.
Any honest broker of peace between the State of Israel and her Arab neighbors must acknowledge publicly a fundamental historical truth and require Arab and Muslim leaders to do the same, for most Israelis to feel that their claim to Israel is affirmed and that their security is an overriding concern. This fact and its implications derive from Abraham’s formative journey and were ignored by President Obama in his Cairo speech and since then.
The land of Israel promised biblically to the Jews and inhabited by Jews more so than anyone else since then includes Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as much as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. Consequently, the Holocaust and violence prior to it may have been why many Jews fled Europe, and it might have been why most nations voted in 1947 to allow for a Jewish state, but it constitutes neither the reason nor the purpose underlying the historic Jewish return to Israel. Jews didn’t happen upon Israel in 1948, settling for a location that seemed easy and safe. Rather, those who returned home to Israel, before or after the Holocaust, did so despite the significant challenges they knew awaited them.
Public recognition of the historic and continual Jewish claim to the entire land of Israel by President Obama and, following his lead, by Arab and Muslim leaders genuinely seeking peace with Israel is a prerequisite, both theoretically and practically, to any final agreement in which Arab and Muslim leaders would accept a permanent and Jewish State of Israel, regardless of its final borders. It would acknowledge that what constitutes “occupied territories” for Israel’s enemies are “disputed territories” to most Israelis. In truth, given that Israel “occupied” Judea and Samaria in a defensive 1967 war aimed at destroying the Jewish state, referring to them as “disputed” rather than simply annexing them should seem generous on Israel’s part.
Arab and Muslim leaders could join with Israel’s leaders in a mutual recognition of historical claims rather than denying Israel’s right to exist. Israel would be invited to give away land that is rightfully its own rather than returning it, as though anyone lay greater claim to it, in exchange for an enduring peace.
An honest accounting of history may be the key to determining whether there exist today authentic voices of compromise among Arab and Muslim leaders and whether Israel should see fit to forgo its historic and legitimate claim to any portion of its land, at this juncture, in pursuit of peace. President Obama can turn this key.
Monday, October 19, 2009
AIPAC SUMMIT CONFERENCE – GALA RECEPTION & DINNER
by Rabbi Isaac Jeret
La Costa Resort / San Diego, CA
October 19, 2009
She-Hekheyanu V'Ki-manu V'Hee-gee-yanu La-Z'man Ha-Zeh ... God has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us unto this moment ...
She-Hekheyanu V'Ki-manu V'Hee-gee-yanu La-Z'man Ha-Zeh ... God has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us unto this moment ...
With this magnificent blessing, Jewish families and communities have marked throughout the ages occasions of celebration and moments of purpose, acknowledging the uniqueness of each for the individuals participating and the precise circumstances at hand, neither of which would ever have aligned before, as they would never arrive again, and the specific consequences of their interaction unknowable before beforehand and impossible ever to generate again.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are blessed to live in the greatest country ever imagined in the course of human history. And, indeed, every American endeavor of enduring virtue has benefited greatly from the unique wisdom, born of the unique experiences of the vast array of the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses who sought refuge on America's shores.
Only several decades ago, our country's Jewish community was the epitome of these tired, poor, and huddled masses, often barely escaping the tyrannical and genocidal clutches of hateful ideologies and tyrants whom, we learned from our unique historical experience as Jews, far more often than not, tend to seek to enact their threats against the objects of their hate and scorn if ever they achieve the means and are afforded the opportunity to do so.
My friends, as leadership is valuable and significant only in situational context, so is wisdom. Thus, when we enter ™the halls of Congress, visiting with respected leaders and their knowledgeable staff-members, sharing our passion for the U.S./Israel relationship, lobbying our representatives regarding important legislation, and urging an appreciation on the part of our elected officials for the nuances of the Jewish State's noble struggle to survive so many thousands of miles away, we do so not as American citizens biased and clouded by a dual allegience, and thereby unable to see clearly that which is in our country's best interests, as cynics and even bigots would suggest of us. Rather we do so, first and foremost - and always, as proud and devoted Americans, contributing our unique wisdom - born of our own experiences over the last 2,000 years of our exile from our Homeland - to the task of ensuring that America identifies swiftly and with clarity who our friends are, who our mortal enemies are, and what we must do, right now, to ensure that we defend our country and those with whom we ally ourselves in the spirit and challenge of liberty and toward the strategic virtue of defending it against those who seek its destruction and our own.
Barukh Ata Ado-nai Elohei-nu Melekh HaOlam Shehecheyanu V'Kee'ma-nu V:ee-gee-yanu La-Z'man HaZeh ... Blessed are You, God, our God, Sovereign of all time and space, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us unto this moment - and, Who may well have brought us here to America for this very moment, a moment requiring the wisdom earned of a unique Jewish historical journey, a moment in which our country may need Israel as much as Israel relies upon the United States, a moment that needs us - right now - to make the difference that only we American Jews can make. - Amen!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
(Updated: July 4, 2011)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Seeing The Light
Reprinted from: The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles
In a series of magnificent discourses on this week’s Torah portion and, more generally, upon the construction and dedication of the Tabernacle’s menorah, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, derived two interdependent perspectives on the Jewish people, from which we can derive similar approaches to understanding humanity. During this pivotal moment in the encounter between Western civilization and the Muslim world, it behooves us to consider the interdependence of these two perspectives to avoid unwarranted risks carrying potentially grave consequences.
Rabbi Schneerson, referred to as the Rebbe by his Chabad followers, reflected on the interpretations of B'ha’alotecha’s opening verses by medieval commentators Rashi and Ramban.
Rashi noted that at the outset of Beha’alotecha, God’s charge to Aaron to dedicate the Tabernacle’s menorah follows the dedication of the Tabernacle itself, recorded in last week’s Torah portion, Naso.
To link the two accounts meaningfully, Rashi refers to a midrash, explaining that God sought to console Aaron, given that neither he nor the kohanim (priests) were invited to bring their own offerings during the Tabernacle’s dedication, whereas the leaders of Israel’s tribes, other than the Levites (to whom the kohanim belonged), were so invited.
Perplexed by the midrash underlying Rashi’s reasoning, Ramban wondered why Aaron would have needed consolation, given the numerous Tabernacle and Temple rituals reserved for the kohanim and given that the kindling of the menorah was not exclusive to the kohanim subsequent to its dedication.
Ramban concluded that the lighting of the menorah in the Tabernacle during its dedication was not Aaron’s consolation. Rather, God consoled Aaron by associating his priestly descendants with the menorah as an eternal ritual object, enduring long after the destruction of the temples later to occur, by virtue of the chanukiyah’s kindling throughout the ages commemorating the miracle of Chanukah.
The Rebbe expounded upon a subtle differentiation between the above interpretations. If Aaron’s consolation was his kindling of the menorah, our reflections upon this passage should center upon the menorah’s lights themselves. However, if Aaron’s consolation was the endurance of the menorah, then the menorah’s unique construction, rather than the lights it was designed to contain and support, should be our focus for contemplation.
Drawing upon Rashi’s commentary several verses earlier, the Rebbe noted the uniqueness and independence of each individual light of the menorah, suggesting that these same qualities characterize the Jewish people. Noting that the menorah was sculpted from one solid piece of gold — and Ramban’s derivation that chanukiyahs must be constructed similarly — the Rebbe reflected on the virtue of Jewish unity as the menorah’s fundamental message. The Rebbe concluded that diversity must be grounded in mutual concern and appreciation, and that unity cannot stifle individual aspirations.
Taken together, and applied to humanity more generally, the Rebbe’s reflections can offer guidance as the Western world seeks mutual understanding, reconciliation and peace with the Muslim world. A genuine appreciation of our common origins, of the singular Source from which we all derive, is a prerequisite to the harmony we might achieve through the diversity of humanity’s religious expressions, ethnic and cultural identities or national aspirations.
The radiance of our unique and respective lights could only be understood then to be enhanced by the light of others.
However, there is great danger in confusing and equating as equal to our own the light of adherents and leaders of ideologies that do not appreciate such underlying and overriding pluralistic values. In our rush to compromise with those who see compromise as surrender, we may likely strengthen the more extreme factions among those who seek to extinguish our light, even at the expense of their own, by presenting our light as negotiable. In the name of such compromise — and self-deception via a false mutuality of understanding — we could also come to see misguided merit in abandoning those with whom we share most an understanding of the origins and purposes of our light.
Moreover, we might well render our own destruction unnecessary by forgetting, or worse, by repudiating the very pluralistic values that differentiate our light, rendering us indistinguishable from those who seek to extinguish us.
Some lights so yearn to join with others to illuminate the darkness that they may risk their own extinction. Other lights, however, may well consider extinguishing all light altogether, even their own, toward achieving a world all their own, even if it exists in a sea of darkness. We would be wiser and safer to see the light and remember this distinction.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Passover seder has evolved and changed throughout the ages. Many of us might not know that the "four questions" were originally "three questions," and one of the three -- preparation of the paschal lamb -- is no longer asked.
Until recently, most Jews read the same haggadah at their seders. Today, different denominations have published haggadahs that include new passages, omit older ones and rearrange the order. And many of us have created and printed personal haggadahs each year for our own family seders.
But the single greatest change to the seder in the American Jewish experience might be our prevailing focus on a more universal theme and message related to liberation.
Whereas the particular Jewish experience of subjugation and liberation was once the central expression of the seder, the persecution of others and their need for liberation has influenced the great majority of the changes to both the haggadah and the seder experience for American Jews.
In discussing this phenomenon with people planning seders over the last several years, they've often shared their concern that their non-Jewish guests or family members might feel excluded, if not offended, should their seders focus too much upon the historical Jewish experiences of subjugation and redemption or the threats facing Jews today. Some have shared that they omit entire passages in the traditional haggadah that reference the Jewish experience of persecution and liberation beyond that of the exodus from Egypt.
Ironically, I've found over the years that non-Jews attending seders come with the expectation, and often the hope, of experiencing a particularly Jewish occasion. When we opt to universalize the theme to the exclusion of the unique historical Jewish experience, we may be responding to our own discomfort with a particularized focus on our history of persecution or our desire to concern ourselves with the welfare of Jews living with less freedom than we might enjoy today. In doing so, we might be avoiding or even denying our own vulnerability, as a miniscule minority among the world's population.
Over the last several years, and this year in particular, world events leave us little room for such self-indulgence. While it is admirable indeed, and very much in keeping with fundamental Jewish values championing life and liberty, for us to be sure to include in our seders our commitment to the liberation of all human beings, Iran is only several months away from developing a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the State of Israel, home to the world's largest, youngest and only growing Jewish population. Iran's radical Islamic leadership has expressed openly its aim to wipe the State of Israel off the map and, if we do not act immediately and decisively, it will soon have the means to do so.
We can make a difference, even at this late hour. And we can start at our seders.
We can encourage our guests or our fellow attendees to become involved in a nationwide undertaking to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. We can begin by consulting the Web site of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at http://www.aipac.org/theiranianthreat.asp. We can download and distribute at our seders, and to our friends and relatives nationwide for distribution at their seders, important background material on this issue and links to legislation pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate that deserve the strongest support of our representatives in Washington, D.C. Via the AIPAC Web site, we can all lobby our representatives to support these initiatives. Each of us, and all of our guests, should be encouraged to contact AIPAC's offices as soon as possible after the seder to learn how we can all be even more helpful in this sacred and urgent mission to keep the means to annihilate the State of Israel out of the hands of those who seek such an end.
As for our non-Jewish guests, wouldn't we be doing them a great disservice were we to ignore this issue at our seders as one of central concern to us as Jews? Shouldn't they know that both the painful and the miraculous lessons of our history help us determine when and how we must act in the name of Jewish self-preservation? If we reclaim our Passover priorities, priorities that demand our Jewish self-concern shamelessly when warranted, more than a few of our non-Jewish guests might well join with us in our urgent endeavor to keep Iran from harming our brothers and sisters in Israel. As we invite them to expand the base of support that will be required to ensure that Iran's aims are never achieved, we might well be surprised to learn just how much they may feel included in our seders, enlightening us about why they accepted our invitations to attend our seders in the first place.
Rabbi Isaac Jeret is the spiritual leader of Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay, a warm and inclusive synagogue-community on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in Los Angeles, CA. For more information about Ner Tamid, call (310) 377-6986 or visit www.nertamid.com.
Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay
Sunday, March 15, 2009
However, appearances can be deceiving. Taking nothing away from Mordechai and Esther, there aren't enough days in the year to celebrate the courageous undertakings of Jews who acted throughout history to save our People from disaster. And, to omit any direct reference to God simply because people chose to act first and pray later seems to deny God's hand in the successes and deliverances that we might ever achieve; an unlikely expression on the part of ancient Jewry on the whole and, some would argue, an unfortunate one on our part today. Is there room to understand Purim as a reminder that faith in God is not a prerequisite to Jewish participation, and even to Jewish heroism? Of course, there is. However, should this, in and of itself, constitute sufficient reason to elevate Purim's apparent heroes beyond so many other heroes of Jewish history who acted similarly in the face of equally grave circumstances while achieving comparable success? No, it shouldn't.
So, if there is a unique hero of the Purim saga, one worthy of Biblical mention and from whom we might learn enduring lessons, who was s/he? And, might this hero shed greater light upon God's absence from Purim's story?
It seems to me that Purim's true hero turns out to be the very man who decreed the annihilation of Persian Jewry in the first place. Yes, King Ahashverosh, the man whom history would rightly have tried and convicted for a genocidal attack upon his own Jewish subjects had he failed to annul his decree upon Esther's impassioned plea on their behalf, is indeed our hero! No, his annulment of the decree constituted nothing heroic; of course, this was simply the just and reasonable thing to do. However, when the king's motivations are considered more carefully, they may reveal how he was indeed Purim's hero, they may offer important insights into God's absence from the Scroll of Esther's recounting of the Purim story, and they may constitute collectively an accessible and virtuous model for today's leaders of the free-world, as the West struggles to acknowledge a serious existential threat posed by Expansionist Islam.
Had King Ahashverosh been motivated to annul his decree against his Jewish subjects solely due to his love for his beloved Queen Esther, his intervention might well have ended with the reversal of his decree alone. While he might never again have trusted his advisor, Haman, to the degree that he once did so, his love for Esther was hardly reason enough to order his Royal Army to engage in all-out war against the militia that Haman enlisted to destroy the Jews; shouldn't he have reasoned with them or even folded some of them into his own army rather than initiating what could easily have become a civil-war? Furthermore, as the Scroll of Esther recounts, the king allowed the Jews of Persia to rise up against Haman's militia, fighting alongside the king's army, in their own self-defense. Didn't the king risk anarchy among the various subjects in his kingdom by allowing the Jews to do so, rather than using his own army exclusively to render Haman's network harmless. After all, wouldn't such actions among one group of subjects encourage other groups to take matters into their own hands, as well?
It is possible that King Ahashverosh's decisions were motivated by more than his love for Esther and her People alone. Ahashverosh might well have realized that the Jews were the canaries in the mine-shaft, his own monarchy constituting Haman's next target. He might well have wondered whether some officers and soldiers of his own army were compromised by Haman's manipulations. Allowing the Jews to fight alongside his army might have discouraged those among the Royal Army who were less loyal from breaking ranks with officers and troops more loyal to the king's monarchy. Furthermore, empowering the Jewish population to defend itself alongside the king's forces might have encouraged even greater loyalty among his Jewish subjects, long into the future, as they might have come to understand that their fate and that of the monarchy had become bound inextricably.
As for God's absence from the story of Purim, King Ahashverosh might well have been motivated by self-interest in his determination to save his Jewish subjects and confront Haman and his militia with decisive force, having understood the broader implications of Esther's more focused concerns for her People. Decisions and actions motivated by self-interest do not necessarily constitute acts of faith. Seeing as there is no evidence at all that King Ahashverosh was a man of faith, it should not surprise us at all that God is not mentioned in the Scroll of Esther; Purim's real hero acted upon the most basic human instinct of self-preservation, though he achieved a Divine, just, and even righteous purpose.
The Neville Chamberlains of history might likely deem King Ahashverosh a war-monger; to the Jewish People, he is perhaps worthy of distinction as a heroic figure, having taken decisive action before it was too late. Today, most ironically, as Iran (modern-day Persia) inches ever-closer to developing the nuclear arsenal that its Expansionist Islamic leadership threatens to utilize to wipe the State of Israel off the map, leaders of the Western World might be well-served to take note that Iran is completing a nuclear infrastructure that will allow it to produce approximately fifty nuclear weapons annually - almost fifty times the arsenal necessary to destroy the tiny State of Israel. We would all be wise to learn from the decisive action that King Ahashverosh took against Haman's militia, protecting the canaries in the mine-shaft, empowering them to protect themselves alongside the king's own forces, and thereby both ensuring evermore their loyalty to the monarchy while protecting the monarchy from an ominous and impending threat.
The leaders of the free-world might take a page out of Esther's Scroll, learning from Ahashverosh's decisive but self-interested actions to determine how they may secure our own civilization, one far more just and worthy than the fate that the Hamans of the world might ever seek to perpetrate upon the Jewish People - and, thereafter, upon everyone else.
*To listen to recordings of Rabbi Jeret's sermons and classes, and to consult a schedule of upcoming Services, classes, and other programming at Congregation Ner Tamid, please click on the following link: www.nertamid.com/rabbi
Rabbi Isaac Jeret
Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Parshat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)
By Rabbi Isaac Jeret
To the contemporary reader, the story of the ancient Israelites’ exodus from Egypt is every bit as compelling as it was to readers centuries ago. And much like the rabbis as far back as 2,000 years ago, there is an aspect of this story that remains troubling for many of us today — God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, effectively compelling Pharaoh to continue to subject our ancestors to slavery, even when Pharaoh might have chosen to do otherwise.
God’s actions appear to interfere with the integrity of the story and its message, allowing Pharaoh an excuse for his continued tyranny and even rendering Pharaoh a sympathetic victim. Is it not God who, having hardened Pharaoh’s heart after the first five plagues, bears sole responsibility for both the continued enslavement of our ancestors and the resulting destruction of Egypt?
This week’s Torah portion, Bo, begins with God’s charge to Moses to call upon Pharaoh yet again, introducing the eighth plague. In the Torah’s recounting of the narrative, God tells Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart ... that you may recount in the hearing of your sons and your sons’ sons how I made a mockery of the Egyptians ...” (Exodus 10:1-2).
But why would God want to make a mockery of the Egyptians? And why would God want succeeding generations to hear, and presumably retell, the story of how God did so? A commonly referenced talmudic answer to this question, attributed to the sage Resh Lakish, suggests there is a limit to God’s patience in awaiting one’s repentance; that given Pharaoh’s refusal to free the Israelite slaves after the first several plagues, God was unwilling thereafter to accept Pharaoh’s change of heart. However, this interpretation runs counter to many meaningful rabbinic sources who suggest that the gates of penitence and repair remain open, always, to the sincere of heart. Would Pharaoh have been insincere in his change of heart? We’ll never know, because God did not permit him the opportunity to correct his horrific subjugation of our ancestors, according to this interpretation. Wouldn’t our ancestors have been better off knowing with absolute certainty that Pharaoh and Egypt deserved their fate? Shouldn’t God have cared to find out?
Another interpretation suggests that God’s intent was to clarify for the Egyptians that there is a God to whom even their own king would succumb; that God is the redeeming force in the universe; that once unleashed by God, freedom’s will ultimately overcomes those who enslave and torment others, or seek to do them even greater harm, and that such designs will lead to the obliteration of all aggressors. However, wouldn’t this point have been made just as powerfully and, perhaps, to a more enduring pedagogical effect, if Pharaoh had been granted the opportunity to see the error of his ways and then transform the Egyptians into a liberating People themselves? Surely this would have made for a story of enormous consequence, potentially encouraging the abolition of all tyranny in the world.
Liberation, as with security, is rarely — if ever — achieved without confronting with decisive power those who aim to terrorize, subjugate and destroy others.
It strikes me that the primary audience for God’s excessive pursuit of Pharaoh, even to the point of hardening his heart, was the slaves and not those who enslaved. It was the Israelites whose grandchildren were intended to hear and repeat this story, not the Egyptians. Perhaps, as a liberated people, there was a lasting lesson to be learned from overcoming a persistent and stubborn enemy with evil intent. Perhaps the challenge of outlasting tyrannical adversaries and their desire to conquer and even to destroy liberty and humanity is one with which liberated societies have an inherent difficulty, especially when tyrants and their followers or proxies extend a false hand toward reconciliation. Perhaps God prolonged Pharaoh’s refusal to free our ancestors, hardening his heart for all to see and retell, so we might never confuse the contrition of those sincerely repentant with the manipulation of those bent on our destruction. Perhaps God was helping our ancestors avoid a tendency to which free but weary people might be forever vulnerable — that of compromising with a seemingly repentant tyrant who might then survive to torment them, with even greater effect, in the future.
Two weeks ago, our brothers and sisters in Israel unilaterally ceased their fire against a treacherous enemy whose leaders state openly that their ideology values death over life, an enemy who seeks the destruction of Israel and the marginalization, at best, of all Jews everywhere. Israel stopped shooting in order to honor the new path of respect and shared interests that our new president aims to pursue with the Muslim world. The new administration seeks to pursue diplomacy with the Muslim world as a preferred strategy toward our own nation’s security, turning away from the perceived errors of ongoing confrontations with our adversaries.
We might be wise to remember what might have been God’s most important lesson of the exodus for our generation: There are those, like Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Iran, and other states and terrorists-groups of the Muslim world whose hardened hearts no longer merit our olive branches, and extending them might make us more vulnerable and encourage evermore their evil designs, as they perceive our weariness for exactly what it is. For our own country’s sake, for Israel’s sake and for that of the entire free world, I pray this Shabbat that our new administration, led by a president who has instilled hope in so many, remembers God’s lesson that, as free but weary people, our willingness to compromise with evil may leave us unable to confront it in the not-too-distant future, when it will have grown stronger and we will have grown wearier and, by consequence, even weaker.
Sometimes, the best response to a hardened heart -- is with a hardened heart.
Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay