We live in a fractured society. Racial, religious and ethnic tensions are tearing away at the fabric of American life and the American soul. And, amidst it all, we are still reeling from a devastating pandemic.
As in all matters, and at all times, our Torah guides the way.
Kol hamerachem al habrios, merachamim olov min hashomayim. Whoever extends mercy to his fellow Man, is extended mercy from Heaven. (Tractate Shabbos 151b)
Indeed, as humans created in G-d’s image, we are enjoined to exercise kindness and compassion at all times. We must certainly strengthen these traits during times of challenge and distress.
Like all decent Americans, we are horrified by the senseless and ruthless killing of George Floyd, and we join in solidarity with the outpouring of hurt, anger and frustration expressed by responsible citizens protesting peacefully.
We are also greatly saddened by the frightening scenes of innocent bystanders and store owners under siege, threatened by violence and mayhem, and facing the prospect of lost livelihoods and uncertain futures. We are deeply distressed, as well, by the looting and vandalism that included assaults and provocations against citizens and law enforcement officers sworn to keep the peace and ensure the safety of our citizens.
So, it is at this very moment that we remember our Torah’s admonition that it is precisely by extending compassion, empathy, and understanding to the strangers, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens in our midst – regardless of our racial or ethnic backgrounds – that we will be shepherded safely through these troubled times, and at all times. That it is by feeling the pain of others and building a sense of community that we will merit Heaven’s healing and unifying embrace.
Let us commit ourselves to that. And, in doing so, we pray that the Merciful One will guide American society and its leaders to ensure the rights and safety of all citizens. May peace among, and respect for, all sectors of American society emerge from this national trauma.