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This Election & Thanksgiving

11/20/2016 09:39:02 PM


In the week since the national election, conversations with my children have been dominated by their reaction to the results. They expressed sadness; that Hillary lost, worry; that our country will reverse the progress being made for a healthier environment, fear; that groups like the LBGTQ community and Muslims will be marginalized, and anger; that a man with the temperament, attitude and history of Donald Trump will be our next president.
As I hear the distress in the voices of my children, and see the acts of protest in response to the presidential results around the country, I am reminded of the quote from the late Israeli Prime Minister and statesman Shimon Peres. He said, “When you have two views, you don’t have to have two peoples.” In the Jewish tradition, opposing viewpoints are treated with respect. For example, In the Talmud, the compilation of Jewish law that records discussions by generations of scholars from the year 200 to the year 500, it’s pages preserve prevailing opinions of the time as well as dissenting views. The inclusion of opposing viewpoints was a holy act toward reaching understanding between differing parties.
In this recent election, when contemporary debate has turned mean, nasty and cacophonous, the voices from our tradition offer us a reminder that disagreement is not disunity. There is much divisiveness and infighting being experienced in so many families, and communities across the country. I pray that we can all use the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to focus on our blessings as Americans and what “unites us as one nation under God.”
One of my favorite descriptions of the ideal future comes from the book of the prophet Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet… And he will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.” It’s a simple vision of a perfected world. Imagine a time when families are free from friction and hostility, when relationships that have grown cold are revived, when love ones who refuse to talk to each other suddenly reunite and embrace. Peace in the heart will bring peace in the family. Peace in the family will bring peace at work. Peace at work will bring peace to society. Peace to society will bring peace in the world. This is how we can bring about the messianic era, one act of kindness at a time.
I do not believe we need to wait for Elijah to repair relationships that we ourselves have the power to mend. Peace and unity will happen when we find the courage to soften our hardened hearts. I pray that God grant us the ability to replace our self-righteousness with humility, temper with compassion, our brooding with forgiveness. I ask for his patience and perseverance. May we be filled with resilience, with hope and with love. Let us celebrate Thanksgiving with thankfulness and love
Rabbi Howard Cove
Mon, 27 May 2024