“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” (Julius Caesar, I,ii,140-141)
The political crisis in which we find ourselves is, at root, a case of getting what we deserve. For too long we have abrogated our sacred responsibility to vote, many of us do not even cast a ballot and for those who do, there is a lack of desire to learn about those who have asked for the privilege to represent us. We cast a vote based on party lines because we have not taken the time or effort to engage. We just do not care enough. Removing the labels will not help get a better representative. It will merely create a blind gamble, betting that the law of averages gives the voter a 50/50 chance to get it right when choosing between two unknown candidates.
A government by, of and for the people can only exist if the people themselves demand no less of their government, otherwise the government and those who become part of it will become self-serving. Unless and until we embrace our obligation to what remains a great noble experiment in governance, politicians will continue on their path of selfishness and divisiveness, which ultimately imperils us all.
I had the privilege of officiating at the funeral and first evening Shiva Minyan of a lovely man. It came time to share a D’var Torah during the Minyan and I spoke to Lech Lecha, our Parashah and God’s command to Abraham to “Go Forth- to a land that I will show you.” The Hebrew is in the singular, in other words God is speaking directly to Abraham, instructing him what to do. As we learn in the story, Abraham does indeed venture out from his father’s house and into history, becoming our Patriarch, a father to those as numerous as the stars. Abraham did need to respond to God’s challenge, but he was not alone.
Sarah was Abraham’s wife and partner. Although God does tell Abraham to “Go forth,” Sarah stood by his side throughout the process. The two of them acted together. And there is significance in that. As I ruminated over the circumstances in which my D’var Torah would be shared, I wondered if in fact the beautiful story of my friend, as related to me by his widow, was a representation of what Abraham and Sarah experienced. It takes an extraordinary person to embark on an extraordinary venture. But would he or she have the courage to do it without the love and support of a trusted partner? Could someone reach for the stars without a companion to provide strength, someone willing to walk with you by your side? And even if a person were capable of achieving “greatness” without any one else’s support, could such a person be the progenitor of a people?
I believe the answer is no. And herein lies a teaching of our Torah portion. We cannot achieve true greatness without the support of others. One can achieve, but without others to share and give strength, the venture is selfish. Lech Lecha, you must do it but you cannot do it alone.
The following is a clip from the interview Jon Stewart conducted with Malala Yousafzai on October 8, 2013. An extraordinary message from an amazing person.