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Sunday, September 13, 2015


As Rosh Hashanah begins, I reflect upon a number of things. Mostly, I reflect on the near-universal biped need for someone to demonize and dehumanize someone else. And yes, sometimes individuals, groups or nations dehumanize themselves and deserve all they get. Most times, though, such a thing is entirely spurious and we all know which people have been thus demonized and dehumanized on the most sickeningly consistent basis over the last two millennia or so.
As long as Am Yisrael understands more about real holiness than their current neighbors (which isn't hard as those who claim the Temple Mount is theirs and theirs ALONE show by that very action they understand NOTHING of real holiness! If they did, they'd invite the world to bring their prayers to the Mount!) they will remain in the land and on the Mount.
But I see two things eating into Israel's understanding. The first looks like an increasing desire to ignore or circumvent the stricture of Exodus 23:9, where God forbids Israel to harass the strangers. (And NO, it does NOT only mean 'proselyte'!! And to those who suggest that, I say, get thee behind me, Satan!) The second is the muting of the voices of the poor and of all the children that go to bed hungry in Israel. That this should happen anywhere is bad enough, but to have it happen in Israel feels like a serious shonda indeed!!
To take an earlier paragraph a step further, I suggest that anyone, or any people, who claim to be the only FULL humans or the only TRUE worshippers of their god show by those very attitudes that they understand nothing of either real humanity or real holiness. Holiness is not something of which any human can say 'mine'; that is always 'ours' when humans are entrusted with any real portion of it at all. So far, the resurrected Israel has avoided this trap. And yes, it lives in a dangerous neighborhood and needs to stay strong, smart and watchful. But it has a tightrope to walk between its physical safety and keeping its soul green and growing.
I know this is nothing new; find me an Israeli or Diaspora Jew who doesn't know it. And when I see how some Israelis treat those they see as 'strangers', I worry for the probable effect on Israel's soul and about God's probable reaction to it. In Scripture, grinding the faces of the poor and injustice to the stranger were two things among others that got first Israel and then Judah sent into exile.
Bibi is right about one thing: racism has no place in Judaism or in Zionism. Let's do all we can starting this new year to realize that as fully as we can and also to honor the stranger and hear the poor children as the Scripture commands us to do.