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A Spiritual Perspective on the Election

November 5, 2020

L’Fi Dati: As I See It

A Message from Rabbi Sam Weintraub

A Spiritual Perspective on the Election

“Gracious and compassionate is G?d, slow to anger and abundant in kindness!”

Ashrei, Psalm 145, said three times every day

I am anxious this week, but also full of gratitude and hope.

So much good has happened.

One hundred and fifty million Americans voted, the highest percentage of eligible voters in 112 years. As if potential exposure to Covid?19 was not daunting enough, many also stood in long lines, enduring hours of waiting, at times planned deliberately to suppress their participation. Still, about two out of every three eligible voters participated. Yashir ko’ach (may your power remain righteous) to them all!

I know that there are terrible problems in our country. Americans are dying at scandalous rates of a lethal virus which many political leaders, from the President down, have dismissed. Family members of different generations or in different states have not been able to see each other in eight months. Millions cannot afford rent, food, and medicine. Children face emotional and social challenges as they stay at home. And the airwaves are full of such virulent attacks and polarized rhetoric that it seems like G?d created Biden supporters and Trump supporters with two different kinds of brains and eyes.

But, for me at last, this past week re?ignited hope.

A whopping 100 million people voted before election day. Many of those who cast ballots had not voted before. All peacefully and preciously insisted on their democratic right.

Which is, also, an old Jewish right.

The importance of democratically choosing leaders has been a Jewish value for over 3000 years. In the Sinai desert, G?d and Moses wanted to appoint B’tzalel as chief artisan over the greatest national building project of the time, the construction of the Tabernacle. B’tzalel was magnificently wise, pious and skilled. Still, the Talmud imagines, the people were consulted:

“With regard to B’tzalel’s appointment, Rabbi Yitzchak said: One may only appoint a leader over a community if he consults with the community and they agree to the appointment.”

Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a

In other words, every vote counts and even—especially—our most critical national endeavors wait until everyone has weighed in.

And the best thing: America felt like a neighborhood again.

With you, I saw the poll workers, many of them volunteers, and postal service employees. They are Democrats, Republicans, Independents working amicably side by side, and even risking their health for the survival of our democracy. G?d bless them!

“G?d has told you…what is good and what G?d requires of you: Act justly, love goodness, and walk modestly with your G?d.”

Micah 6:8

I turned on the TV and I did not hear vicious personal attacks and polarized politics but saw instead citizens of all ages, races, creeds and income levels stepping out to safeguard a way of life for which so many have fought and died.

From Rosh Chodesh Elul to Hoshana Rabbah, the 51 day High Holiday period of repentance, we end every morning and evening service with Psalm 27:

“Wait for Adonai, make your heart strong and be of courage. Wait for Adonai.”

Psalm 27:14

I know that this election will take a while, much longer than it should. Even In the best of times, it would have taken more than one day to count the unprecedented number of votes. President Trump has made clear his intention to undermine the election results and court cases will likely continue for weeks. We pray that all challenges will be peaceful and that our President and others in power will refrain from emboldening extremists and fomenting violence.

But this will go on for a while and we must be patient, as we remain outspoken and active.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught,

“…we must help time, and realize that time is always ripe to do right.”

“Remaining awake through a great revolution”
Sunday sermon, March 31, 1968

The meaning of this time is repentance. We have been given the opportunity to return our country to its founding Biblical promises of dignity and freedom, economic opportunity, public health and education, respect for opposing viewpoints, embrace of the foreigner, and an openness to new ideas.

With blessings for peace, health, and democracy,

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Weintraub

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