Rabbi Robin Sparr’s D’var
November 11, 2016, Parashat Lech L’cha
This week’s parasha – Lech L’cha. Abraham and Sarah are sent on a journey, told to leave behind all they know and hold dear, everything that is familiar and comfortable to them.
How did they feel? Perhaps they felt adrift, disoriented, frightened. Perhaps they also felt invigorated and excited about new possibilities.
How did they react? They followed God’s command, and took the path shown to them, they put one foot in front of the other, experiencing victories and defeats, and ultimately were able to set about the task of building a great nation, not only through their son, but through the countless members of their household who were inspired by their example.
Following a fractious election cycle, and a somewhat stunning outcome, our country is divided and struggling to make meaning of all that has occurred.
Some, Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters, have turned their emotion, be it joy or anger, against “they.” But who is “they?” “They” are us – they are our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers. Dividing ourselves into “them” and “us” does not help us mend, does not help us grow, and does not help us move forward.
I understand the reasons that motivated some in our community to cast their ballot for the president-elect – concern for our beloved Israel, dislike or mistrust of the other candidates, frustration with some of the policies put in place by our current president, hope for “something different” than the gridlock and division of our legislative bodies. No one in our community is “deplorable,” and I don’t believe any one of our members cast their ballot in favor of racism, misogyny, or hate, but rather, each was driven to select the person who they thought might be best able to improve things in some way.
As I said when I spoke on Yom Kippur, as a rabbi and the leader of a religious community, it isn’t my place to endorse or renounce any candidate. But, also as a rabbi, I cannot keep silent in the face of injustice.
While some in our synagogue family, and in the communities beyond, are likely feeling relieved and joyful about their candidate’s victory, I know many of you are deeply dismayed, shocked, and fearful, and are experiencing emotions not unlike those first described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross as stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Well, perhaps some have not quite gotten to Acceptance yet. It might take a little while.
But we needn’t become victims of our deep disappointment. We must not stand still, not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear, not become frozen and inert. Instead, we must take action in ways that will be meaningful, not only for ourselves but for all those we worry might suffer under the coming administration.
The opportunities are numerous. I’ve prepared a list of agencies and organizations whose need for your support and assistance will be greater than ever. Get involved – give your time, energy and money to ensure the protections we cherish will not be eroded.
While you may not care for the president elect, remember that many of the policies that most directly affect you are local – Get involved in politics at the local level. Run for school board, selectman, or other local public office. Or work on the campaigns of those whose ideology aligns with yours.
My friend Rabbi Josh Breindel shared these wise words with his community yesterday:
“It is not necessary for us to agree on every political issue, but it is essential that we view each other with kindness, care and respect.
As Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught, “The whole world is like a very narrow bridge. The important part is not to be afraid.” Let’s take these words to heart, embracing one another with love, trust and hope.”
Some words of inspiration after the 2016 election
Compiled by Rabbi Robin Sparr
It’s unthinkable and terrible. Yet I have no choice but invoke optimism and expect that we as a nation will survive and come out the other side. Optimism is a choice. I take heart in the exit polls for those 18-25. That is the future. It is too far away, but it will come. —Joshua Segal
I’m an international student so it’s a bad time for me. But when I compare to my home in China all I see here is hope. Because every 4 years you have a vote where all the big problems are exposed. And then there’s a chance to do something about it. —David Karger’s student
We need to stop looking to politicians to make our world better. Politicians don’t make the world a petter place. Everything that’s ever made the world a better place has come from intentors, engineers, scientists, teachers, artists, builders, philosophers, healers, and people that choose love over hate. —Don Freeman
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering —Yoda
Darkness can’t drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do that. —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left to speak out for me”
—Pastor Martin Niemöller
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
To every LGBTQ person across this nation feeling stunned and disheartened and questioning if they may have a place in our country today, we say this: You do. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. Be bold. Be strong, and continue to stand up for the principles that have always made America great. —The Human Rights Campaign
I refuse to Hate:
Black, White, Asian, Hispanic People
Men & women
I refuse to hate
They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds —Mexican proverb
In case you’re disappointed with the election results, Rabbi Ariann Weitzman reminds us that last night we also elected: “the first Indian-American congresspeople (Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal), the first Latina senator (Catherine Cortez Masto), the first LGBT governor (Kate Brown), the first Somali-American (an ex-refugee, Ilhan Omar), a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants (Stephanie Murphy), and re-elected another refugee and the first disabled member of Congress (Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth).” So we do have something to kvell about. —Kveller.com