The views expressed in this drash are those of the author. We welcome Torah insights and teachings from all viewpoints, and encourage dialogue to strengthen the diversity of our academy.
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
By Cantor Rebekah Mirsky, ’10
In the past several months I have tried to stand in the shoes (or in the waters or rubble) of people displaced from hurricanes and earthquakes, and most recently people who themselves or whose family members were gunned down in a Las Vegas hotel.
In Parshat Noach, God is so upset with human kind that they tell Noach, who is “a righteous man in his time,” to build an ark, so that he and his family will be safe from the angry waters that will destroy all other beings.
Recently we have faced tragedies of “biblical proportions.” It is easy to make references to this story, and for it to feel relevant. There have been real floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and mass shootings. I admit that I have despaired–is this the time that we need to just wipe the slate clean and start over? Have we gone too far again?
To be clear, I make a huge distinction between preventable tragedy and non-preventable tragedy.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” – natural disasters
“…the courage to change the things I can…” – or at least attempt with all our might – Gun control laws
“…and the wisdom to know the difference.” – we can be helping hands in the aftermath.
As I write this it is Sukkot. It is the time of joy – z’man simchateinu. Yet it is difficult to experience the purity of joy that this holiday potentially holds for us.
We can only emphasize the fragility of life and the fact that we can never be sure on any given day what will happen to us.
If we have a Sukkah, an apartment, or a house, or an Ark, we must invite our family and friends in and huddle together against the world’s unpredictability. Our ark should not be concerned with religion, creed, color, or even “citizenship,” but with content of character. We need not be perfect, but we need to be conscious, empathetic, and ready to attend to things that we can do something about, even if only in some small way.
We cannot abandon one another and our sense of hope for the world when there is joy to be had.
There is fruit that is so juicy it dribbles down your chin, pride that is so overwhelming you can feel your heart burst like fireworks.
The scent of an etrog, a rose, or freshly baked chocolate chip challah.
Kindness so healing that it dries tears and overflows the soul. Hugs so warm that they erase the stresses of the day.
Kisses that make you tingle down to your feet.
Sometimes there are even rainbows so abundant in color that they take our breath away and remind us that we are alive; they also remind us of our part of the covenant with the source of life.
We who are survivors must never lose sight of the good.
Like Noah and his family, our job is to rebuild the world and populate it with love, understanding, and yes, a little faith.