Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
What another game-changing week it has been. There is a purported Chinese curse that says “May you live in interesting times,” … well, here we are.
It is simply not possible to begin this week’s message without expressing my own grief and outrage at the killing of George Floyd. May his memory be for a blessing and may this horrific act be a springboard for change in our criminal justice system and may it move all Americans closer to real equality for all.
The idea that keeps popping into my head is that the pandemic we have all been experiencing the past three months coupled with this murder, which has sparked both appropriate protesting and inappropriate rioting, looting and violence, have made one thing more evident to me than ever before in my life — that it doesn’t take all that much to throw humanity off the path of “civility” and quickly reverting to our animalistic beginnings and tendencies. Whether that takes the form of hoarding toilet paper and essential items we all rely upon or the inexcusable rioting that emerged and continues after the Floyd killing…these are definitely not normal times.
As a kid, I used to love watching the Twilight Zone series. I adored Rod Serling’s genius, the host and writer, who was a member of the tribe, by the way. In several episodes, he put neighborhoods and situations into scenarios that quickly turned civilized people into frightened, hateful and dangerous creatures. When the danger was gone, people apologized and tried to go about their business with tails between their legs, but the damage had been done.
Judaism has always understood this as well. We speak of being created b’tzelem Elohim (in G-d’s image). We are given the gift of free choice and we each are brought into this world with a yetzer tov and a yetzer ha’rah (a good and an evil inclination). We each have the capacity for either and choose when we give-in to one or the other.
I was blessed to have the free choice to experience my very first Zoom wedding this past weekend while all the “mishegas” (craziness) was going on all around our country. I was able to witness a longtime friend and colleague marry his love and begin a new life together. I received great joy in drinking-in their happiness, and I couldn’t be happier that they found each other. I look forward to seeing what they build together in the coming years. The goodness in us.
This week’s Torah portion is Naso (the sum), in the book of Numbers. The fourth in the five books of Moses. It is the longest single Torah portion containing 176 verses. I suppose that is apropos that this seems like the longest week ever, with 8pm to 5am curfews in Phoenix and just the knowledge that so many people are out there letting their yetzer ha’rah (evil inclination) prevail.
May we all choose our yetzer tov (inclination for good) more often and I wish each of you and your loved ones a Shabbat Shalom.
Light candles on Friday at 7:17pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday at 8:19pm.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Subscribe to receive Marty’s Shabbat Message in your inbox each week.Donate Now