“Whoever studies the Torah for its own sake [l’shmah] merits many things…[among other things] it gives the individual sovereignty and dominion and the ability to judge.” – Pirke Avot 6.1
|וְהָיָה עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן, אֵת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה, וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם וַעֲשִׂיתֶם, אֹתָם–וְשָׁמַר ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְךָ, אֶת-הַבְּרִית וְאֶת-הַחֶסֶד, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע, לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ.||If you will take care to listen well and do the mitzvot commanded to you, then HaShem your G*d will take care with you and the covenant and the mercy promised for all generations (Devarim 7.12)|
It has been a bittersweet week. In this week alone we have felt the sharp impact of pain on our relationships both near and far. The State of Israel passed a law that undermines the values of equality and justice promised in its own declaration of independence; the Federal government of the United States admitted that it has no idea how to re-unify the children and parents it has separated; add to this the fact that many of us have personal stories that keep us up at night.
Yet this Shabbat we are urged to find consolation. Despite everything. The haftarah for which the Shabbat is named declares that despite everything, there is hope if we will maintain our faith in that which is good, and in that which is just. All that has been cast down can yet be raised up: facts, freedoms, futures. Compassion, truth, and justice are bigger than any one human, and will outlast us all – we, who come and go like grass.
כָּל־גֶּיא֙ יִנָּשֵׂ֔א וְכָל־הַ֥ר וְגִבְעָ֖ה יִשְׁפָּ֑לוּ וְהָיָ֤ה הֶֽעָקֹב֙ לְמִישׁ֔וֹר וְהָרְכָסִ֖ים לְבִקְעָֽה׃
Let every valley be raised, every hill and mount made low.
Let the rugged ground become level and the ridges a plain.וְנִגְלָ֖ה כְּב֣וֹד יְהוָ֑ה וְרָא֤וּ כָל־בָּשָׂר֙ יַחְדָּ֔ו כִּ֛י פִּ֥י ה דִּבֵּֽר׃The Presence of HaShem shall appear,And all of us will see it together, for that day is coming.ק֚וֹל אֹמֵ֣ר קְרָ֔א וְאָמַ֖ר מָ֣ה אֶקְרָ֑א כָּל־הַבָּשָׂ֣ר חָצִ֔יר וְכָל־חַסְדּ֖וֹ כְּצִ֥יץ הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃A voice rings out: “Proclaim!” Another asks, “What shall I proclaim?”“All flesh is grass, All its goodness like flowers of the field:יָבֵ֤שׁ חָצִיר֙ נָ֣בֵֽל צִ֔יץ כִּ֛י ר֥וּחַ ה נָ֣שְׁבָה בּ֑וֹ אָכֵ֥ן חָצִ֖יר הָעָֽם׃Grass withers, flowers fade when the breath of HaShem blows on them.Indeed, people are nothing more than grass.
An ox knows its master and an ass knows where the food is; but Israel does not know, my people is thoughtless.” (Isaiah 1.3)
Your land is a waste, your cities burned down; before your eyes, the yield of your work is consumed by others….we are almost like Sodom, another Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1.7-9 excerpted)
the Sages taught that the ancient Temples were destroyed [on Tisha B’Av] because of sinat hinam on the part of Jews – gratuitous hatred, hatred without just cause, hatred which does nothing but take a place of conflict, despair, bigotry, violence, and make it worse.
Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance
Bearing Moral Witness in Times of Turmoil
To Mayor Wheeler:
The Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance affirms your original decision NOT to use Portland Police to intervene in any way to address the Occupy ICE encampment at the ICE headquarters on SW Macadam.
Even if members of the Portland Police Bureau were used only to direct traffic, but certainly if they were deployed for any other purpose, we speak clearly and loudly in opposition to the use of city police for any purpose other than supporting the occupiers, our fellow citizens of the City of Portland.
If we are to be a Sanctuary City, we must stand firm in our opposition to the human rights violations of the current Federal administration. Whether asylum seekers and others seeking a new home in the United States are separated from their children at the border, or are incarcerated with their children, both of these actions are inhumane, both horrifically toxic and traumatic, and both of these actions must be thwarted by those of us who know that they are wrong. We declare that shutting down local ICE offices is a legitimate path to resist this morally abhorrent policy.
We call upon all who are committed to working together to seek justice: to find a path to ensure that no prison, be it state, federal or local, be it private or public, houses anyone detained by ICE; that the impact of ICE is felt no more in this state and in this nation; and that every immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker, documented or not, knows that they are safe in Portland.
Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance
Signed representing the larger group:
Rabbah Debra Kolodny, Portland’s UnShul
Rabbi Ariel Stone, Congregation Shir Tikvah
Priestess Blaed Spence, Reclaiming Tradition
Reverend Dr. Barbara Campbell
Reverend Aric Clark, Presbytery of Cascades
Rabbi Benjamin Barnett, Havurah Shalom
Rabbi Abby Cohen
Reverend Dr. David Alexander
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer
Rabbi Joseph Wolf
Rabbinic Intern Davina Bookbinder
Pastor J.W. Matt Hennessee, Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church
The Reverend Cecil Charles Prescod, Ainsworth United Church of Christ
Reverend Dr. Amanda Zentz-Alo
Reverend Tara Wilkens, Bridgeport United Church of Christ
Reverend Lynne Smouse Lopez
The tribes of Reuven and of Gad were herders, and they saw that the land on the east side of the Jordan river was good grazing land. So they said to Moshe, “this land through which we are traveling is good land for grazing. Rather than cross the Jordan river, we prefer to stay on this side and settle here.” –BaMidbar 32.1-5, excerpted.
Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will will escape with your life by being in the King’s palace. One the contrary, if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, while you and your family’s house wil perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained your royal position just for this purpose?” – Megillat Esther 4.13-14.