Beloved Friends, 

Many of you know that I intended to be in Israel studying at the Shalom Hartman Institute for two weeks beginning July 5th. I took off from Chicago early Monday morning for Tel Aviv via Montreal. Upon landing in Montreal, I turned on my phone and read with horror that there had been a mass shooting in Highland Park. At that point, the number of killed and wounded was still being tallied. The shock was overwhelming. I called Cathy who like so many were sheltering under orders of law enforcement behind a locked door and shuttered blinds. I knew then that I needed to get back home to be with her and with all of you. In the chaos and the confusion of Montreal’s airport, I found people who were infinitely kind; people who cried with me at the tremendous pain we felt at the spilled blood of so many innocents. Passport control agents, baggage handlers, gate agents… people who themselves were hanging by a thread as they are continually harassed by angry travelers. Each and every one of them did all they could to help me do what seemed so impossible. I am so very grateful to each of them for the kindness and generosity extended to me. 

Yes, the world seems like it is in such a horrible place. And it is as we witness yet another mass shooting. I am angry. I am angry that we cannot enact sensible gun control laws. I am angry that our elected officials seem to be blind to what is so patently obvious to me. There is no reason for anyone outside of the military or law enforcement to own and possess an automatic weapon. There is no reason for someone who is not of drinking age to be able to purchase a gun. There is no reason for any of this. So, yes, I am angry and share the anger that all of us feel. But anger does not bring healing. Anger will not allow for emotional and spiritual wounds to heal. So, I let the anger go. Anger will not change the reality of what happened on the morning of July 4th. 

 

I move from anger to faith and faith brings me to Torah. This week’s Torah portion is called, Balak. The Haftarah reading comes from the prophet Micah. Micah’s words, words so often quoted, lead me forward through this darkness. “God has told you what is good, and what God requires of you: only to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (6:8) We must work for justice not just to punish the criminal who pulled the trigger but for a just system that can implement sensible gun laws. We must love mercy so much that we can be kind to ourselves through self-care and bring this kindness to every person in our family and in our community. We must walk humbly with God, meaning that we know what is within our power to do and what is not. We can work for justice. We can cultivate kindness and be generous with it. We can rise to become the best version of ourselves. 

 

May we all find the strength we need, the kindness we yearn for, and may God grant a full measure of comfort and healing to all who are in pain. 

 

Shabbat Shalom,