I am recovering from too much “recovery eating” following the long fast. I am recovering from many hours of sitting and participating in services awaiting the chance to blow Tekiah Gedolah on the shofar at the end of the day (the shofar is a hollow horn from a kosher animal usually a rams horn tekiah is a simple note that rises at the end, the gedolah from Hebrew word for big or large indicates the final blast which is generally held as long as the blower can sustain, it must be longer then 9 seconds and we generally play for 18 seconds to avoid the appearance of competition). I am thinking about the many questions that were raised during the day by the Rabbis and by the texts. None of this is new to me, I have done it for many years. The questions are also not new, but the answers seem to squirm around and change with each passing year. Is that because I have lived another year and added to my “wisdom” or is it merely because I have witnessed more life along the way, most likely it is a bit of both, if there is a difference, and changes in our society that have caused me to focus on different answers. There is no answer to these questions, just more questions.
I started to focus on “evil speech” lashon horah (not sure of the transliteration) which is one of the grave sins for which there is no forgiveness according to some rabbinic sources. This becomes important to me as I listen to the ravings of politicians attacking each other and everyone who is not a supporter using the most ‘evil speech” I can imagine. Do these people not understand that these words cannot be unsaid? They have released them into the world and the internet makes sure they will continue to come around for years to come. I just saw such an attack from 2012 come back around as if it were new. I have listened to shifting positions and to attacks on immigrants as if the speakers were not descendants of immigrants themselves, to attacks on people of different religions, as if their religion was the only one that has “the word.” They are quick to attack Muslims in particular as if they are the only religion that is home to fanatics and terrorists forgetting that the first horrific attack on US territory was at the Murrah Office Building in Oklahoma City by an American of supposedly Christian background. I will not except any group of hosting sick, angry people.
Writing the next day. . .
The use of hate speech inflames any discussion and limits the possibility of constructive dialogue. Once I express a point of view in definitive language with no conditions, I leave myself no graceful way to come to a compromise. The people who oppose Planned Parenthood have left themselves no room to accept the role they play in helping women lead a healthier life. Appropriate planning would prevent most abortions. Yet, having stated their positions without conditions they feel obligated to take more and more outrageous stands, even threatening to shut down the federal government for the sake of their position. I could go on to state other areas where groups in government have painted themselves into a corner, but I think I have made my point.
I will try even harder this year to refrain from any kind of evil speech, gossip or even just plain uncontrolled venting. I know I will fail at some point, probably on an internet forum someplace, but I will try.