You Shall Pursue

April 15, 2013

Doer of Good and Creator of Evil

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marleyweiner @ 11:24 pm

For the second time since I have started rabbinical school, the news is buzzing with some horrifying evil. Last time I found myself scared and sad. This time, I’m feeling pissed.

How dare the evil people of this world keep blowing away innocents? How dare they? I was speaking to a good friend today, and she is a runner, and now she is freaking out at the idea of doing this thing that she loves, because someone had to go and blow it up. And several months ago, I had to go through aching sadness every time I looked at my pupils because someone decided it would be a good idea to go and murder some kids. 

We were given this incredible capacity, as social animals. We are bonded to each other, we seek each other out for comfort and love. And we have great capacity for love. This beautiful piece by s.e. smith shows the power of our capacity for love and supporting one another in times of crisis. And that is a truly miraculous thing.

But our power to love each other gives us also the power to wound tremendously, the power to produce twisted, stunted, evil people who think that it is acceptable to hurt other people to deal with their own darkness, their own anger, their own vicious sick brokenness. I don’t claim to know what would drive someone to cause this sort of destruction. But this is a real a piece of the human condition as our capacity for love. And that is fucking enraging.

Why, oh Creator of the Universe, did you create us so imperfect? What was your plan, in making us so ready and willing to hurt each other?

December 20, 2012

Thoughts About Terrible Things

Filed under: Choosing Life — Tags: , , , , , — marleyweiner @ 4:31 am

So, this thing happened. And people died. Babies died. And I simultaneously want to talk about it, and I don’t really have the words.

Evil is real. People choose to do awful things to one another, to hurt each other, to kill each other. There are many reasons that we can talk about why that is, the culture of violence, entitlement, and domination that we live in. The insane level gun access in this country. But no matter where we point the blame, the fact is that evil is as much a part of human life as good is. We have violent, nasty evil impulses, and sometimes people choose to act on those evil impulses and bring horror into the world.

What can we do about this as religious people? Our job is twofold. First of all, we must stand as prophets against this madness. We must say: this is enough. We cannot stand by while our neighbors are literally bleeding. We must write, speak, call, until the world begins to heal.

Second, we must stand as a force for love in our community. I have my kids to watch out for; I have to keep them feeling safe and loved and supported even while we talk about this terrible thing that happened. I have friends, family, classmates, and we all need to lean on each other and love each other. We are  community, and the only way to stand against the evil in this world is by sharing our love for one another, over and over again until people truly feel loved and brave and whole. This is what God is for, to look evil in the face and say, there is a force greater than you, that will heal the destruction that you have wrought, that will fight tooth and nail to keep it from ever happening again.

Here is an organization that you can check out to learn more about fighting gun violence in Philadelphia.

As of today, there is legislation being proposed in the Senate for an assault rifle ban. You can contact your Senator here.

Blessings of love, peace, and healing for the families whose children were murdered. May you find support and love in this horribly dark time.

September 10, 2012

Glorified and Sanctified

Filed under: Choosing Life, Spirituality — Tags: , , — marleyweiner @ 12:04 am

My aunt died on Thursday. She had been sick for a long time, with various illnesses, and her passing was, if not a relief, than at least something expected. As the religious Jew in the family, I decided to take on the obligation of the shloshim, the thirty days of saying kaddish, which is the Jewish prayer of mourning.

The thing about kaddish is that it makes no mention of death, in fact, it is structured to celebrate life and the God that breathes life into all of us. The title of this post is a rough English translation of the first two words of the prayer. It praises God, lists God’s worthy attributes, and prays for peace. Kaddish is supposed to be said in a minyan, a public gathering of ten or more Jews, which gives mourners the opportunity to make a public declaration of their grief, even as they recite words of praise.

My aunt’s life is certainly something to be celebrated, even in this time of mourning. She went quietly in her sleep, and while she died young, there was a lot that was good about her final five or so years. Her only son is married to a wonderful woman, and she got to see and spend time with her granddaughter. All of these are blessings. She was a witty, sarcastic woman who loved her family and built a good life for herself, also blessings. She will be missed terribly.

On Friday, saying kaddish for the first time at my home synagogue, I discovered that it was also the yartzeit¬†of a dear friend of my mother’s who passed away when I couldn’t have been more than five years old. It has been twenty years, but I still remember her, and her parents were there to hear their daughter’s name read. After services, I went up to them to ask after their son-in-law (who taught one of my confirmation academy classes) and their grandkids (who are about my age). And they told me that it was still hard, which makes sense. Twenty years later, I think that it is a tremendous blessing that they could have a venue to greet someone else who remembered their daughter and share, for a minute, their love and their loss.

Judaism is a religion of memory. We come together every year to remember those whom we, of course, can never forget. To declare publicly to our communities that we have loved and lost important people, and to praise God on their behalf. Aunt Pam, you will be missed, and you will be remembered.

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