Yom Rivii, 28 Tishri 5778
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Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah--Lech L'cha

My thoughts this week are short and simple. This has been a rough week. Our emotions are all over the place. Even in a society supposedly built on the ideal of fair and balanced representation, we have chosen between candidates who provided division and derision amongst us at all levels of the electoral process (city council was challenging). Now, even post election, we have people trying to undo them (again, at all levels). Those who opposed violence are screaming in the streets. Campaign rhetoric geared at bringing votes now looms dangerously over us. On the one hand, fringe groups found justification and empowerment in the rhetoric; emboldened they proffer their hate. On the other hand, some people feel so left out and despondent that they abandon the system; they simply walk away, only making more room for the newly emboldened hate.

It was an election. It was not about change. Incumbents stayed in office by landslides. It was about a lot of things … though primarily it should have been about our failure to maintain a say in what happens around us. This week, we go on a new journey. Lech lecha … get up and leave from your comfort zone. Our nation was founded upon our right and obligation to participate … actively in our government. As God tells Abraham, if you go on this journey and do what you are supposed to do, you will be blessed. Fortuitous the timing of this portion, this week: If we fail to leave our comfort zone. If we fail to participate in the journey, there are no blessings. Whichever side one supported in any of the matters on the ballots, we are in the mess that we are in, because still more people stayed home and silent, abdicating their responsibility to this country and to the protection of their own freedoms. Imagine if Abraham had said, “No” to God. “I am not going.”

This is Veteran’s Day, imagine if no one showed up to protect our country. No, I have not agreed with any of the wars in my lifetime, and I know many veterans who feel the same way … even many who served and fulfilled their obligations at great cost. I absolutely stand with every person who said, “If I don’t serve, there will be no one invested in protecting us when it is a matter of our lives and deaths.” Again, imagine Abraham saying, “No, I don’t agree. I don’t want to be bothered.”

So, “Lech l’cha. Mi moladetcha.” Get up and go, leave the comfort zone. It is time for us to love our nation enough to participate in making our voices heard in the halls of government, in the shelters helping to restore lives, in the streets helping to return us from our exile from each other. Shabbat Shalom … I pray.