On the evening of Friday September 15 and through the weekend, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh HaShannah, the Jewish new year. We say in our liturgy that this is the day that God created the world. Yet the world is not having a great birthday party, is it?
Hurricane Lee, a force 5 hurricane is storming up the coast – who can forget Maria and her devastation there? And in Morocco, a devastating earthquake has left thousands dead and more missing and injured.
In Deuteronomy 11, as well as in the rebukes in Deuteronomy 28, we read about huge environmental disasters that will befall us if we abandon God and go after idolatry. In biblical terms this means one thing. In modern terms it means something totally different.
The kind of transphobic attacks that we face on a daily basis are, in fact, idolatry. These so-called Christians are taking God’s name in vain and deliberately misreading their Bibles to justify hatred and to justify literally killing trans, other queer, disabled and BIPOC people. As I have quoted before, Mishna Sanhedrin states that one who destroys a life is considered as if they have destroyed the world.
And unfortunately, the danger is not just from Christians. I was just talking with a friend who is a Puerto Rican Converso, who is now a rabbinical student. He asked me if I thought that Netanyahu of Israel was like Trump. I said no, he is worse – he is like Putin; he is trying to be a permanent leader, destroy the Constitution of Israel, colonizing other people’s land and take away human rights. At least Trump hadn’t gotten around to colonizing other people’s lands during his term in office.
With his coalition with the theocrats in Israel, human rights there are suffering as well. So, it is no longer the haven it once may have been for people fleeing oppression. Israel was formed by people fleeing oppression in Russia and the Pale, but the GOVERNMENT of Israel is now totally corrupt. Note that I am not going to deal with the legitimacy of the STATE of Israel here.
The Jewish High Holy Days are also called in Hebrew Aseret Y’mai Teshuva – the Ten Days of Repentance. They are preceded by an entire month of penitence. As humans, we have a lot to contemplate.
As citizens of the United States, we have more to contemplate right now. We are a super power, and for many decades were considered a “force for good” in the world. Yet in reality, the US government has been a bunch of thugs and thieves. Never more is this true than with the highly corrupt Supreme Court, which sees nothing wrong with their ethical violations, and the Congress that refuses to take action to correct this.
To say that God is punishing global citizens with hurricanes and earthquakes for all the folly that is extant in the world right now is called theophany. And this is a troubling kind of theology. In Judaism, we do not believe that God directly causes this kind of action anymore. The intensity of hurricanes is caused by climate change. The occurrence of earthquakes is an unavoidable reality of a very fragile planet, along with the human hubris of building in unstable tectonic zones.
But the choice to be transphobic, racist, ablist, or any other kind of “ist” is a totally human failing. It is completely avoidable if people really work on the proper introspection that is called for at this time of year, and do what God truly wants, not what MEN have told them that God wants. I emphasize men because the major religions of the world have been patriarchally written and ruled for millennia.
Every major religion has language of peace and love in its traditions. If people heeded that language, instead of choosing to be judgmental and hateful, wouldn’t it be a better place?
Praying for a Sweet, Happy and Blessed New Year.