Reb Lisa's Message

This moment is potent with potential. Let’s not lose momentum.

Achrei Mot-Kedoshim. This week’s double Torah portion. A literal translation of these words is “After the death and Holy Ones.” The death referred to in the Torah is two of Aaron’s sons. Aaron of course is Kohein Gadol, high priest, and the brother of Moses. The Holy Ones are the priests of the Temple and the parasha outlines the laws of holiness and ethical behavior.

A powerful, groundbreaking verdict was delivered yesterday. How do we think about these words in light of where we stand as a country right now? After the death--of George Floyd--how do we walk the path of holiness and ethical behavior? Obviously, the first step is justice. The palpable exhale of a collective breath, that had been held onto tightly since May of last year, was felt around the world yesterday. Of course we know the work is not finished. It has only begun. In the words of Langston Hughes, “I do not need my freedom when I’m dead. I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”

This moment is potent with potential. Let’s not lose momentum.

This week’s double Torah portion has so much to teach and offer for this moment. In it we find God’s inspirational, universal anthem to us: “V’ahavta l’reacha k’mocha. You shall love your fellow as yourself.” This is not a suggestion. It is a commandment. A holy obligation. An ethical demand. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes. And we must remember that it does not come in one moment, a single verdict. It comes, when the ethos of God’s commandment is a way of life, is embedded in the systems and structures of our society, is the common table around which we sit. Let’s get to work.

This moment is potent with potential. Let’s not lose momentum.

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