Colors: Green Color

After the horrific massacre of innocents at the hands of not one, but two mass shooters last week, the nation had the opportunity to use the moment to come together. One shooting was by a white supremacist, the other by an Antifa-supporting socialist. While there is still a deep divide on how to address the problem, everyone should have banded together to universally condemn white supremacy and Antifa violence. That didn’t happen because there are too many who are willing to stand on the graves of the dead to score political points against President Trump.

Last week, as the nation celebrated the anniversary of her independence, a stark difference arose amongst her occupants. The most patriotic day of the year was marred with partisan divisiveness, as had so many days before. What began years ago as two sides of a political aisle having vigorous debates on issues such as tax rates, healthcare policy, and the southern border has morphed into a binary choice: love America or hate America.

Now that we have celebrated Purim with its chagigos, Purim shpiels, and all the hooplahs, it’s time for a reality check and thinking about Pesach. Each year, the celebration of the holiday gets more and more expensive. Our Rabbis state that our celebration for Pesach is incomplete if we fail to provide for those in need in our community. They further teach us that we are truly G-dly in our behavior when we actively respond to the poor and vulnerable. Caring for and giving to those less fortunate is our righteous obligation, responsibility, and duty. The chiyuv (obligation) to combat poverty is meant to be an expression of our achdus (unity) as a people. The giving of charity is a fundamental part of Jewish life.

Much negative talk has been directed at the Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, from the Republican Congress as they tried to repeal it some 50 times. The ACA’s rollout through the government website was disastrous, and according to the Inspector General’s report, the total cost of the website reached $1.7 billion. Also, for years after it went into effect, its insurance policy premiums were going up substantially along with its deductible amounts, and choice of carriers for certain states were becoming fewer as different insurance companies were dropping out of those markets.

I need to make a confession. I understand the importance of remembering past events, but I have a problem sympathizing with things that happened 2,000 years ago. Yes, I read Megillas Eichah and cringe when the prophet talks about Jewish women eating their children in order to survive. I also spend many hours on the floor reading the kinos – mostly with the English translation – and try my best to take things seriously… but it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong; I fully appreciate the great rabbanim who insisted we cry over the tragic events of Tish’ah B’Av and I agree that a people who does not know, and does not identify with the past, will be doomed to repeat it… but let me be honest: It’s a very hard thing for me to do.

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