Shabbat VaYikra: Salaam, Shalom, Peace

This week our parashat hashavua is VaYikra, which translates as a calling upon, or calling out – out loud. G*d calls upon Moshe to act to evoke holiness in the world, and G*d similarly calls upon us. Though we do not hear a voice, we can sometimes feel that there is something that we are called upon to do. Today we are called upon to speak out for love, for community, and to declare that Od Yavo Shalom, Salaam, Aleynu – peace will yet come to us.

We mourn with our Muslim sisters and brothers after the tragedy of the massacre in two New Zealand mosques. This horrific violence is an indicator of a threat that faces us all: the rise of a racist, hateful white supremacist ideology which targets all of us who are deemed inimical to that world. African Americans, LGBTQIA+ people, immigrants, Muslims, feminists, and also us Jews – we are all endangered and we are all called to stand together and strengthen each other. We are witnessing a global resurgence of fascism and white nationalism, and the power of that hate is real, as is the power of the fear behind it, and which it causes. We must not give in to it. We must insist that our elected representatives hold accountable those in our midst who encourage and support hate, and we must ourselves do what we can to give that hate no support, no attention, no opening in our communities.

And even while our hearts are breaking, we are called to hold each other up, and so lift up the power of our mutual respect and support, in defiance of the chaos created by fear. Let us come together to affirm through our acts the belief that a better world is possible. Transformative love is possible. Wholeness is possible: salaam, shalom, peace.

Mir veln zey iberlebn, Avinu shebashamayim – We will outlive them, G*d in heaven! (Yiddish, sang in the face of Nazis at gunpoint)
inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – We belong to G*d and to G*d we shall return (Qur’an)

And in the most appropriate form of defiance we know, may we all insist upon a Shabbat shalom.

hazak hazak v’nithazek,
Rabbi Ariel
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