Messages from Rabbi Russo

July 8, 2016 - 2 Tamuz

July 8 - 9 ~ 2nd and 3rd of Tammuz 5776
Korach, in this week's parashah, goes against Moshe's authority and arguably against God as well.  He is treated as a rebel by the text and is punished accordingly.  
I have been thinking a lot about the role of the rebellious type in our society especially this week.  I am proud that so many people screamed out and protested the long-standing institutional racism and racial inequality in our nation.  We are moved to act in response to violence, death, and racial inequality that targets young, Black men in America, whether we attend Black Lives Matter rallies, bring up racism at the dinner table, reach out to our neighbors, and show our support, or lobby congress.  There are so many times every day that police and civilians interact civilly, appropriately, and in ways that protect the public.  When something does go wrong, when a person of color is targeted, killed, and it goes terribly wrong, there is no turning back.  The loss is felt forever.  
Sometimes rebelling is good.  Rebelling against a corrupt and broken system is essential.  As Elie Wiesel z''l, who died this week, said in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech in 1986, “And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”  
When we wake up and hear about a violent attack on police officers in Dallas, when we learn that five officers who serve our country in their  community are to protect us were murdered during what should have been a peaceful protest, that is when rebelling is taken too far. Officers who rushed to the source of the gun fire and danger to protect protesters because this is what the men and women of our law enforcement have pledged to do demonstrates the enormity and difficulties involved in the noble work of good policing.
Violence and murder is never the solution.  We need to take a note from Korach and rebel against injustices and also know when it is taken too far.  May we all find the strength to comfort each other during difficult times without violence.  We need the shelter of peace that Shabbat provides more than ever this week.
Shabbat Shalom.