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Showing posts from February, 2010

You are the End of Evil

We all know that in Judaism, there’s a blessing for everything:blessings for when we wake up, blessings for when we go to sleep.Blessings for when we eat and blessings for simchas.Our ancient sages teach us that just as we bless for the good, so too, we bless even when bad things befall us.When tragedy strikes, we say ‘Baruch Dayan ha’Emet,’ blessed is God, Judge of Truth—the undeniable truth is that when tragedy strikes, we say ‘so be it,’ blessed be God.I would like us to take a moment to contemplate the implications of this notion:we bless not only the good, but we bless evil as well!When you think about it that way, it seems almost impossible to believe.We’re the Jewish people, the people of Justice!We’re all about taking action in the world to fight against all oppression and injustice!How could we possibly bless evil in any way?We have lived through centuries of persecution, of Nazis, of terrorists.We live in a world filled with violence and abuse and rape and murder and oppress…

Peace is the Presence of Justice

There is an ancient tradition among our people that our name, Yisrael contains within it a vision of our role among all the nations of the world. When God bestowed that name, Yisrael, onto Jacob, it was because his descendants were to be the people of “Yashar El.” The Hebrew ‘yashar’ means ‘straight.’ We are the people of ‘godly straightness.’ This world is filled with crookedness, jealousy, and hatred, and we are to be the ones to ‘straighten’ it all out. In Parashat Mishpatim, the Torah reveals an extraordinary series of laws that lay the foundations for building a society of justice, where the stranger, the widow, and the orphan are never forgotten. It provides a framework for thinking about an ideal society where none are oppressed, where the powerful never again victimize the dispossessed. Mishpatim begins with the words “V’eleh hamishpatim asher tasim lifneihem, “And these are the laws that you shall place before them” (Exodus 21:1). The commentary, the Sfat Emet, asks t…