Elul Reflection for 17 Elul 5776

Paradoxical imperative: politics as Torah

Australia’s Senate, America’s elections and UK’s Brexit: do these raise Jewishly familiar challenges? Identification of minorities and other groups identified as “undesirable” recalls how that theme was exploited in 1930’s Germany. The egos of those who would dominate from extreme positions, might imply Progressives who occupy liberal, sane middle ground, appear anything from naïve to wimpy. In anticipation of the coming High Holidays, global concerns loom large. They demand we grasp the impetus of faith and translate it into actions in our world, whose principles seem to be rocking on their foundations.

Whilst politics may seem out of kilter with spiritual preparation for the coming New Year’s judgment, a precarious world demands that we invigorate our self-understanding, sense the creativity and potential for individual and communal agency. We dare not allow others to disenfranchise us. We have the obligation to enact our love for Torah and its ethical teachings in the tandem effort with Heaven, however unpalatable politics may be. Just as God shapes us, clay in the hands of the Divine Potter, the Heavenly Glassblower’s silica, purified alloy of the Eternal Silversmith, iron for the Blessed Blacksmith, so we must forge our contributions lest we lament that we did not, at some time in the future.


--Rabbi Aviva Kipen


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