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A D'Var Torah from Rabbi Josh Hearshen

08/27/2020 05:15:23 PM


Rabbi Hearshen

Tevye famously said “I know that we are the chosen people… but for once couldn’t You have chosen another people?” This sarcastic but heartfelt cry is something that many of us have felt in our own lives. There are so many times where we feel like the metaphorical camel waiting for that last straw that will break us. We often feel like one more burden is going to be just too much for us to endure. We cry out from that pain and darkness and exclaim why and how. We make arguments about the lack of fairness and justness in the pain that we are enduring. Haven’t we been through enough already?

In normal times, my days and weeks are often spent visiting people in hospitals, rehab facilities and other places. In normal times, I make it a point to sit in rooms with people in pain to help them through all that they are carrying on their own. It is so much weight for everyone to deal with and another person being there often eases that burden. Often, I find myself there for the family members of the hospitalized just as much if not more than I am there for the patient. On numerous occasions I am asked why… why me… why my husband… why my wife… why? When they ask this question I often want to offer the sage words of “why not you?” But I know that those words fall flat every time. The question being asked is rhetorical, of course. But at the same time, it is the invitation that I am being given to have a conversation with the person who is in deep pain. It is at that moment that I do not defend God and the imperfect world that He created. It is at that moment that I do not get into the science as to why this is happening to their body. I do not reassure and I do not play fortune teller. My job and my role at that moment is to be a whipping boy and a receptacle for anger and grief. It is to reassure the person that their pain is real and authentic and that they have every right to feel angry and sad and scared. They are dealing with so much and what they need at that moment is not to hear “it will be okay,” but to hear that it is not okay, that they are suffering, and that I am also angry that they are going through this.

As I am writing this message, a massive storm is amassing in the Gulf of Mexico. Just earlier this week another storm of lesser strength walloped the same location. So many people right now are in harm’s way and it breaks all of our hearts. We will be watching in real time as homes are decimated and lives are torn to shreds. We will watch as lives are lost and hearts are broken. It is awful to know that there is so little that we can do at this time to help. All of this is exasperated by the pandemic that we have been contending with for almost the entire year up until now. As I am writing these words, another unarmed man of color was shot by the people who are sworn to protect all of us and uphold the rule of law. This has sent our country into even greater amounts of pain and suffering. “I know that we are the chosen people… but for once couldn’t you have chosen another people?” We have had enough. We cannot stand another blow to our lives and our image of a world that will see better days. We cannot continue to have our hearts broken. The mistake that many make at moments like these is that we blame God for being the force behind the destruction. God is not in the eye of the hurricane but in the eye of the rescuer putting her life at risk to save others. God is not in the DNA of the COVID-19, but in the DNA of the person putting his life at risk to treat patients and the people researching the cure to this illness. God is not in the heart of the people who murder, but is in the hearts of those who yearn for justice and bettering our world. God is with us crying and telling us that He agrees that we cannot take another piece of adversity and yet… the world will continue to have its lows at the same time. God is there waiting with us and holding us up as we await another rainbow at the end of this storm.

We pray for the safety and well being of all of those in harms way as the storm strikes in the coming days. We pray for all who are fighting COVID19 and those treating those who are fighting. And we pray for peace in our cities and justice as well. We pray that we will find a way to an America where we live up to our founding documents messages of a country made by “we the people” where “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” May it be so.

​​​​​​Shabbat Shalom.

Sat, January 23 2021 10 Shevat 5781