Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – R’eih

Prophecy is. Prophecy is how God speaks to the world. Prophecy is supposed to help us see the errors in our ways and compel us to repent and return. Prophecy is supposed to remind us that we have a sacred commitment to each other. Prophecy is supposed to teach us that we fail God when we fail to care for each other. Every time a Biblical prophet speaks, it is because we somehow failed in this sacred obligation.

Prophets remind us that taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves is not a matter of choice, political power play, or guilt assuaging placation. We take care of people because we are supposed to, not because we want to feel better about ourselves and certainly not to gain brownie points with the electorate or public.

Prophecy has nothing to do with predicting the future – it compels us to change our behaviors to create a better future – for everyone.

Prophecy is not an open microphone night for bullying and degrading.
Reading this week’s Torah portion, God reminds Moses to tell the people, “There are false prophets out there!” God admonishes Moses to teach the people that if someone speaks on behalf of God, and the message is anything except a demand for justice, righteousness, equality, and peace for all, that person is a false prophet. Following him will lead to idolatry, and idolatry leads to chaos and mayhem in society.

As I look around, I see far too many people listening to false prophets who pit us against each other as any sense of national or cultural cohesion, sanctity, or safety tumbles into the abyss. We will fall for anything these days, so long as it protects our power.

“January 6 was not an act of terror; they were tourists.” I guess that is why American tourists are not welcome anywhere. Tourists don’t tear a governmental building apart, steal artifacts, and threaten/attack personnel.
“The vaccine comes with risks.” So does driving a car, eating at a restaurant, or sitting behind home-plate at a baseball game.

“I believe the politicians are right; science is a lie.” Who replaced your knee, a politician? Who delivered your children? Does your Senator make house calls or prescribe the pills you need for recovery when you get sick?

“You can’t make me mask in your restaurant.” Why not? I can make you wear a shirt and shoes. There are clergy members who will not allow you in their house of worship if you are masked or vaccinated.

COVID numbers are skyrocketing – overwhelmingly amongst those who refused the vaccine. Those who were vaccinated and tested positive, for the most part, have a cold.

How can we live in a nation where political leaders throw the Bible at us to prove their view of God is the right one – and we simply say, “Yes.” The Bible admonishes us to love each other, care for the weakest amongst us, and do justice, especially when no one is watching – that Bible could never condone the behaviors that pass for societal leadership. Where is a loving God in the power grab? Where in scripture does God say, “Do whatever you want without regard for anyone else’s well-being?” I don’t remember Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, or any other spiritual/faithful leader telling the people that it is ok to ignore the needs of everyone around you.

The Bible says that people who act in these horrible ways should be executed. I think, though, the text does not call on us to do the execution – I think that it tells us that as they destroy our world, they will fall along with it. By allowing them to destroy our world, we become complicit in their destruction. Elie Wiesel taught us that silence is complicity. When a false prophet speaks, commanding us to ignore or abuse our neighbor – we cannot be silent. We must speak up and rebuke the false prophet – we must step up and repair the breach that he/she sought to create. We must – you and I must change the world.

Shabbat Shalom.