[saymaListserv] Fwd: For all Americans: A High Holiday Message
jhminshall at comcast.net
Sat Sep 27 12:46:32 JEST 2003
Dear Friends, Given the Judeo-Christian roots of our tradition, I
wish you a Happy Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and commend to you these
messages from Rabbi Lerner. Blessings, Janet Minshall
>A Letter from Rabbi Michael Lerner:
>FOR ALL AMERICANS: A HIGH HOLIDAY MESSAGE
>Blessings for a New Year of peace, social justice, and social healing.
>Let this New Year be one in which all people on the planet open their hearts
>to each other, experience the beauty and sanctity of each other, and begin to
>transform their economic, political and social institutions in ways
>all of us to be more loving and generous in our daily lives.
>Let it be a New Year in which each of us becomes more fully our highest
>selves, and each of us sees through the various ways that we hide from each
>other--so that we can assist each other to feel safer, more loved, and more
>recognized for who we really are. Let it be a New Year in which those who
>advocate safety through domination come to see that the best path for safety
>is through mutual cooperation.
>And let it be a New Year in which each of us personally finds ourselves more
>joyous, more loving and loved, healthier, more filled with life and with God's
>energy, more compassionate and more fulfilled at every level of our being.
>Le'shana Tovah Teekateyvu--Be inscribed for a Good New Year!
>Rabbi Michael Lerner
>P.S. If I have in some way offended or hurt or disrespected you this
>year, I ask for your forgiveness. Like every other person on the
>planet, I am a limited and flawed human being who makes mistakes, at
>times acts unconsciously and
>out of impure motives, and does not always take into account the needs of
>those receiving my words or actions. For all this, I ask for your pardon.
>WHY AMERICA BADLY NEEDS TEN DAYS OF REPENTANCE--AND SOON!
>By RABBI MICHAEL LERNER
>Just as Christmas has entered American mass culture as a season for good
>feelings, Americans could benefit from embracing the Jewish Days of
>Repentance (this year from Sept. 26h to October 6th) as a season for self-
>examination, both as individuals and as a society.
>Although the original symbolism of the Jewish High Holidays (God judging us
>and sealing our fate--"Who shall live and who shall die? Who shall be exalted
>and who shall be brought low?"--in the Book of Life) may have little
>resonance for a secular culture, there is a real power in the underlying idea.
>Environmentalists have helped us understand that there is a karmic order to
>the universe: the damage we are doing now will in fact reverberate in our
>futures and in the lives of our children. In fact, the human race may be
>dangerously close to global ecological catastrophe on a scale that the Bible
>predicted when it claimed that the natural cycles would fail if people did not
>create a moral order in their daily lives. And we've witnessed how the quick
>resort to violence and military intervention, providing a quick fix,
>actually has not made our world much safer, glad though we may be to
>be rid of Saddam.
>On the personal and the global level, ten days of repentance might give us
>the opportunity to explore how we've been missing the mark, and what we
>can do to get re-aligned with our highest selves. We might discover the ways
>that we've allowed a cynical media and a societal ethos of materialism and
>"looking out for number one" to obscure our collective longing for love and
>community, for a world of generosity and kindness.
>For liberals and progressives, the highest priority today is to stop President
>Bush from destroying our freedoms and militarizing our world--all in the name
>of security. Yet the real problems we face are far deeper than replacing one
>set of politicians with another. We need a New Bottom Line of love and caring
>so that institutions and social practices are judged rational and
>efficient notonly to the extent that they maximize our money and
>power, but also to the
>extent that they maximize our capacities to be loving, generous, kind,
>ecologically and ethically sensitive, and capable of responding to the
>grandeur of creation with awe and wonder. A societal period of repentance
>might have as one dimension the envisioning of how to recreate our economy
>and political institutions with that New Bottom Line.
>As a first step, we might acknowledge our sins--the ways that we've betrayed
>our highest capacities. The Hebrew word for sin, cheyt, has none of the
>implications of deep flaws, but rather is based on the notion of "missing the
>mark"--as though we had temporarily gone astray, and this occasion gives us "
>the opportunity to return to our highest selves. That's why in my
>congregation, Beyt Tikkun in San Francisco, we start any reflections
>on our "sins" by saying first: "Who are WE--we are light and beauty,
>infinite wisdom, eternal goodness; but, we have strayed, we have
>moved out of contact with our
>highest selves, and we intend to get back to the source of holiness
>For Our Sins As Americans:
>o allowing our government to lie its way into the war in Iraq
>o believing that security can be achieved through domination of the others
> rather than through cooperation
>o allowing our legitimate fear and outrage at terror to be
>manipulated for the
> sake of undermining civil liberaties and constitutional
>protections that were earned through the struggles of previous
>generations and which were a
> central part of what made us proud to be Americans
>o enjoying the benefits of living in the richest country on the earth while
> refusing to share what we have with the 2 billion people on the planet who
> live on less than $2 a day, many of whom will die from diseases directly
> related to malnutrition and poverty
>o failing to share our wealth with those who are impoverished, and denying
> healthcare, education, employment, housing and other needed social
> goods to the poor, while further enriching the rich
>o letting our government block and undermine international environmental
> agreements rather than taking the lead in repairing environmental damage
>o consuming goods we do not need and thinking we always need more and
>o feeling powerless, becoming cynical, and giving up on larger social change
>For Our Sins As Human Beings:
>o not adequately rejoicing and celebrating the beauty and grandeur of the
> world around us;
>o ignoring the oneness of all humanity, and instead thinking that our group,
> our tribe, our country, our corporation, our political party is
>so much more
> deserving than everyone else.
>o being cyncical about the possibility of building a world based on love
>o not seeing the spark of divinity within each person we encounter
>o looking at the world, and at other human beings, through the lens of
> utilitarian reductionism ("is there something here that can be OF USE to
> me") and allowing to atrophy our capacity to respond to the grandeur of
> creation and to the mystery of other human beings with awe and wonder
> and a sense of the sacred that surrounds us.
>o not realizing that we are enough, there is enough, and that we already
> have all that we need if only we learn to share it lovingly
>As a Jew, I'd add some for my own people, and hope you'd do some for your
>own group or religion or tribe:
>o not publicly criticizing Israel for its unwillingness to end the
> the West Bank and allowing the Palestinian people to build their
>o blaming the entire Palestinian people for the (inexcusable and murderous)
> acts of a few hundred immoral terrorists, and then inflicting collective
> punishment on the entire Palestinian people, including denial of food and
> water, bombings from the sky, assassinations of suspected terrorists that
> often involve killing dozens of other innocents, house demolitions, and the
> building of a "security Wall" in the midst of the West Bank (thereby
> expropriating yet more land)
>o not adequately supporting those who have courageously stood up for
> justice and peace, even at great personal expense (most recently,
>the 27 Air
> Force officers in Israel who announced on September 24, 2003,that they
> would refuse to fly missions in the West Bank aimed at destroying
> Palestinians from the sky)--thereby allowing the rest of the
>world to believe
> that the Jewish people are being fairly represented by our current array of
> leaders who are either apologists for the Occupation or too scared to speak
> out unequivocally against it.
>o not standing up for Israel or the Jewish people when it is being unfairly
> criticized, held to a different standard than everyone else, and not
> adequately challenging anti-Semitism when it rears its ugly head
>in the anti-
> war movement or among those who have legitimate criticisms of Israeli
> policy but then move beyond that to sweepingly dismiss the rights of the
> Jewish people, including our right to be just as screwed up as everyone
> else without being singled out for being worse than we really are.
>o not learning from the wisdom of, and affirming the beauty and goodness of,
> every other people and religious/spiritual tradition--for fear
>that doing so
> would somehow diminish our commitment to our own worth or our own
>o thinking that our pain is so much more important than anyone else's pain
>o allowing the riches of the Jewish tradition to be appropriated by
> reactionary forces, rather than immersing ourselves in it, reclaiming and
> renewing it, and learning from its immense beauty and wisdom.
>Well, you could certainly fill out these lists in your own way. But
>healing it would be if our society were to adopt, in a secularized but morally
>serious manner, the practice of enumerating these sins, and then (and here is
>the rub), actually developing strategies for how we are to change.
>It's a gift the
>Jews might offer America, if anyone is willing to take it.
Janet's new e mail address is : jhminshall at comcast.net
More information about the sayma