Earlier this week, my email was hacked. So were the emails of several other local rabbis and numerous rabbis across the country. More accurately, my email was impersonated, with a new email that looked sufficiently like the Neveh Shalom address.
One of the blessings of our religious tradition is that it provides us a rich heritage of traditions to navigate loss. Oftentimes, I’ve encountered people who don’t have that sort of tradition or community and they are at a loss with their loss. They don’t have a clear pathway to help them mourn and celebrate or to allow them to move through the many stages of grief.
When Moshe Rabbeinu died, the Israelites mourned thirty days for Moses. (Deuteronomy 34:8). When Aaron died, our ancestors also mourned for thirty days (Numbers 20:29). These are the sources for our tradition’s custom of sheloshim. What is interesting is how these very public observances of sheloshim changed and became reserved for our closest of kin.
From a purely pragmatic perspective, the answer is no. Even in communities like ours, where a supermajority of our congregants are of similar mind when it comes to political affiliation, an important minority holds opposing views. Rabbis are regular people, after all, who often have families to support. So it would be judicious to turn a blind eye to things political if only for job security.
Who’s a Jew? What does it mean to be Jewish? And who gets to decide? Those are loaded questions that touch close to the skin. There’s a lot of emotion involved in how we answer them, a lot of passion. There’s a lot at stake anytime our fundamental identities come into play.
“We should honor and make the Torah beautiful and have reverence for it and honor it, according to our ability.” Shulkhan Arukh. On two separate occasions over the last few months, a Torah scroll in our community has fallen to the ground. In both cases, the people involved have tremendous love and respect for the Torah.