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Three of Life: Parshat Toldot and Its Lessons

11/03/2021 11:06:42 AM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin

Lessons About Anti-Semitism We Can Learn From the Pittsburgh Synagogue  Attack | Time

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob... the Big Three, our holy patriarchs.  What is it about these ancestors of us all that we venerate?

Abraham and Sarah embodied compassion: they set the pattern of what it means to be a Jew.  Kindness, love, dialogue, peace -- all of that is the legacy of the first Jewish family. 

Isaac and Rebecca embody justice and self-sacrifice. They lit the fire for a world of justice and righteousness that burns in every Jewish heart. 

Jacob embodies truth and the willingness to be fearless.  Israel means "G-d's fighter" -- but also "the one who argues with G-d".  

This combination: compassion, justice and truth, is the secret sauce of the Jewish heritage and message. 

It also places us, as it always has, on the vanguard of civilization.  As the State of Israel, a thriving, inspiring democracy, confronts extremism, intolerance and hatred in our ancient homeland, so does the Jewish people everywhere.   That is why the haters, the xenophobes, the tiki-torchers throughout history line up against us first.  Because we are who we are and we will do what the legacies of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that are coded into our spiritual DNA call upon us to do. 

Eighty-three years ago, during the November pogroms of Kristallnacht in all its state-sponsored terror, we faced the rising dark. And three years ago, the gentle, sincere daveners at the Tree of Life Synagogue faced the same evil.  

And we are called not to respond but to simply be who we are.  Our great democracy was founded and has flourished on these same principles: kindness, justice, truth.  Diversity and tolerance are baked into the fabric of the American character.  We can serve our country best by exemplifying this.  Wear your kippot as much as you can.  Put up big, beautiful mezuzas on homes, college dorms and everywhere else.  Wear Stars of David and be proud to be Jewish Americans.  Torah is a tree that needs to be watered by our faith, but so is liberty a tree.  On this somber anniversary of the Tree of Life attack, three years where Jew-hate continues to fester, we have our own holy three: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the G-d of the Covenant whose Name we share.   Kindness, justice, truth.  

Listen to Rabbi Rudin and our Religious School children's performance of a song in tribute here. 

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784