Monday, October 27, 2014

Takes Time, You Pick A Place To Go Just keep Truckin' On (Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia et. al. - "Truckin'")

Last week, Ottawa experienced a terrorist attack aimed at Canada’s democratic institutions.  I didn’t know about it until our daughter, who is working in Seattle, texted me the news.  I turned on a U.S. news outlet that was covering the story.  Different news shows, with different talking heads, were interviewing eyewitnesses, FBI anti-terrorist authorities, as well as Federal and Provincial law enforcement. When I came home from work, our children asked if I had heard what occurred in Ottawa that day. “I did”, I replied. Then our son looked up at me and said, “Well I guess that means that there is nowhere safe from terrorist attacks.” I asked him what he meant. “Well, Israel has terrorist attacks, the United States has terrorist attacks like 9/11.” When I said that there must be some country that has not had a terrorist attack, he quickly answered, “Maybe but I would never want to live there. I have lived in America, mommy talks about living in Israel, and we live in Canada and I never heard about a terrorist attack in Canada until this week.”  I thought about what Prime Minister Harper said about democracy  and combating fear, I thought about what Mayor Rudy Giuliani said soon after the 9/11 attacks about New York being open for business and living in an open democratic society.  Just like my son quickly came to the realization that there is no such thing as an open democratic society invulnerable to a terrorist attack, now another country, Canada has to quickly come to the same realization and begin a different kind of national journey. Thankfully, Prime Minister Harper has already begun the journey as he has been an outspoken supporter of fighting terrorism, whether it be ISIS or Hamas. He has not only used words but has used deed as well by providing military and intelligence support to the United States in the war on terrorism.  With this recent attack upon a solider in Quebec and then the attack in Ottawa, the world seems to look a little different than it did a few weeks before. When my children look at the world from their “Canadian lens”, they see a similar world as when they look through their “American lens”. There are bad people, and bad ideas out there that want to hurt people innocent people living decent lives in nice places. For my children to arrive at that realization is a process and journey that will require faith.
                This week's Parsha is Lech Lecha. In it, God commands Abram to leave his father, his homeland and everything he has ever known and go to a place where God will show him later. Abram does. He heads down towards Egypt because of a famine. Eventually, Abram leaves Egypt with money, flocks, servants, and wealth. Lot, Abram's nephew, and Abram decide to part ways since each their respective flocks not only become intermingled but their hired hands fight among each other. Abram then fights against several kings in an attempt to protect Lot. Then his wife Sarai, who is barren, tells Abram to make Hagar (the maidservant) the surrogate mother. Abram listens and Hagar has a son named Ishmael. She runs away and then returns. God tells Abram a prophecy. Abram will become the father of a great nation, and that nation will become enslaved for several centuries and then will return to the land that God promised Abram. Then God instructs Abram to circumcise himself, his son Ishmael and all the males of his household.
All these seemingly unrelated events are linked together by the explanation offered by the Talmudic Sages. Beginning with Abraham receiving the command Lech Lecha, to go, from his father’s home, his place of birth and his country to a new land, God was testing Abraham’s worthiness to receive God’s Brit, God’s covenant. (Mishnah Avot 5:4) Rambam, the great 12th century Spanish physician, philosopher, commentator and Halachist, explains that these tests were not for God’s benefit. After all, God know what the result of the test will be. Rather, Rambam explains that the test is for the benefit of the person being tested. The Parsha begins with a seemingly superfluous word, Lecha for you. Ordinarily a command should be Lech – Go. However God says “Lech Lecha” – Go for you/Go for yourself.  Meaning Avraham’s going and the ensuing tests that Avraham will face is for Avraham’s sake. The test are designed to prove to Avraham that he is worthy of this unique relationship with God. It’s one thing when a parent, a teacher, or a mentor believes in us. However if we don’t believe in ourselves, then it doesn’t matter how much confidence other may have, we still may feel unworthy or unable to succeed.
            The same holds true for communities and countries. Like the United States democratic ideals, values and institution were tested on 9/11, Canada now faces a similar test. Will Canada cower to the terrorists? Like other democracies that experienced terrorist attacks, Canadians inherently understand that the Democracy will only cower to terrorist if it gives into fear.  Should there be more security? Certainly. Should Canada become a closed society where individual rights are trampled in the name of security? It seems that Canadian politicians and the Canadian electorate, need to embark upon a journey for the good of the country, a journey that the United States began on 9/11, and determine the delicate balance between security and reduced risk while maintaining the sanctity of individual rights and freedoms. Like I explained to my son, Canada, is still a safe place to live, and a good place to live.
Rav Yitz

No comments:

Post a Comment