There’s a George Bernard Shaw quote that speaks to the dangers of debating Donald Trump: “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig,” the adage goes. “You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” No matter what happened in Cleveland on Tuesday night, Joe Biden was always going to wind up with at least a little mud on him. But he was absolutely covered in it by the end of the first 2020 debate. From the outset, Trump turned the proceedings into an absolute fiasco—a grotesque, impossible-to-watch bickering match led by a president who bulldozed over the moderator and his opponent with a deluge of familiar lies, empty boasts, and rage.
In the Minority
The room was comfortably full, not packed. The A/C offered a Brrr so any remnant of heat left over from Indian Summer was left outside our “four walls.”Rabbi Lookstein walked up to the podium with his particular cadence I’ve come to know through the years. I was appropriately clad in the “right” length skirt. And so the stage was set, the evening began.
I was at KJ Synagogue to hear Dr. Rabbi Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University speak. The write up about the evening caught my eye and the kids set me up to gain entrance. He spoke on Sin, Self Perception and the Art of Living.
The timing for me to hear this was propitious. Yes, G-d offers no coincidences. I walked away from the evening a little more fine tuned on some immediate issues that have been dealt to my extended family.
He touched on the distinction between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. He detailed the difference in prayer between looking at and embracing your sins, your misgivings and your wrongdoings. He was light on the emphasis of sins necessarily being terrible shandas worthy of punishments and more on ways we have wronged others. He moved on to the meaning of wearing white on Yom Kippur and praying for the forgiveness of the past year’s behaviors that we feel we can better. He was straightforward, his words flowed with a pleasant melody and his sincerity offered comfort. We, as Jewish people are factually in the minority.
Our importance and roles in society however, quite the contrary. What was in the minority last night as well, were cells phones beeping, ringing or being accessed. We were there to listen, perhaps learn and be respectful of a very busy man sharing his knowledge and wisdom about keeping the peace pipe moving. L’dor V’dor.
I left the Rabbi’s sermon feeling comfortable, embraced and that my well being was cared about by a virtual stranger, an ordained man.
In the love your neighbor category and a look after your own way, I question why it is often easier to be more kind to strangers than intimates. As a divine order play out, we are placed in positions, in families and situations that because we are “just humans” will inevitably offer conflict and need for repair. So perhaps just for today, four days short of wearing a white outfit and maybe even sneakers why not look to our left, glance to our right and say we are sorry to an intimate we may have wronged. Perhaps if we begin to own our piece of behavior we can move on in a healthy way to the sounds of cell phones ringing and beeps of texts coming in. Amen!
We are living through a chapter in time where some days bare minimums fall short of being met. Where judgments are hopefully leveled and helping hands and legs up are the norm.
If our heart displays it is always in the right place, then we can only hope cutting each other slack is practiced. We are made up of qualities of good and foibles that deem us human. Making it easier for one another when we can is optimum and listed high on our list of priorities. This is no time to bemoan our fate, but Avinu Malkenu, please give us a sign that one foot in front of the other, well intended, will soon deliver us to safety. On September 18, 2008 we said good-bye to our Sophie-our Mother with Grace. On September 18, 2020 we said good-bye to the Mother of Country RBG. Sophie took our Sunshine away. Justice Ginsburg’s passing takes our breath away. Avinu Malkenu is the divine number “18”- chai designated to women of valor? Chet and Yud adding up to 18 in the Hebrew alphabet. An eternal plan-no coincidence.
Whistleblower Claims women in ICE custody are being Coerced into Hysterectomies. The Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia is being investigated for performing hysterectomies for organ experimentation. They are said to have coerced Spanish speaking prisoners into doing this and not really explaining why it was being done. Ok, so they basically said get up on the table we are going to remove your dignity, humane rights to make decisions about Your bodies and eradicate your ability to procreate and bear children. These nefarious activities occurred all the while living in a covid-19 riddled and unsafe cell. As we enter the New Year and light yahrzeit candles for our parents we sigh a split second of relief as our protective instincts kick in. Thank G-d you were spared this moment in time when all your dreams for us had to be put on hold while we dodge bullets, run from rabid dogs, so to speak running around the streets and anxiously wait for when this demonic despot is no longer holding our health card in his hands. L’shana tova tikatevu.
5781 you can’t come soon enough. We will usher you down the aisle to a picture show smacking of our days before using lysol or drinking it was a choice. We are done dreaming in turkish about episode 1,025 and impatiently waiting till we can take toothpicks on the way out from a restaurant. We will pray to Hashem on zoom and make certain he knows now more than ever how serious we are about Sacrificial and Tashlich. So it feels like fall as we move our white jeans and tee shirts to the back of our closet and make room for sweaters, flannel slacks and blazers. As we have done for umpteen years we will figure out our temple outfits. Our ritual for holiday mode frames our picture of leaves falling and noodle pudding scents wafting through our homes. This year we ask 92 Street “why not.” In addition to our lectures, lyric and lyricists series and grandchildren’s nursery school the “Y” serves as our house of worship. This year we will add extra usage on our “ memory battery.” We will recreate a picture in our mind’s eye as we sit in our apartment, put on a holiday blouse and get ready to zoom the service from the waist up. In an article in the Times this week they interviewed young children and asked them to express a thought on what “love” means to them. 4 year old Billy said and I quote, when someone loves you the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth. From his mouth to Hashem’s ears.