As slaves, we experienced three primary forms of oppression: gerut (alienation), avdut (servitude) and innui (affliction), [Genesis 15:14]. Our suffering naturally inspires us to acts of social justice in which we attempt to alleviate others’ physical oppression and deprivation. However, we can perceive and interpret our suffering spiritually as well.
Of all the wisdom and political theory from the great Thomas Paine that has endured perhaps some of his wisest words were those he imparted on the eve of the American revolution: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must… undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” (The American Crisis, Number IV: Philadelphia, September 12 ). Paine’s words are both thoughtful and inspiring and serve as a reminder that we must constantly defend and enhance our justice system in America to support freedom.
Judaism is mostly a rationalist tradition that embraces free will, critical thinking, and the importance of the intellect. Most endeavors that mandate irrational and overly chancy behavior are forbidden by the Jewish tradition. Gambling is one of the prevalent modern activities that may make for fun sport in moderation, but when treated as a primary source of income it borders on the irrational.
In recent years, debates about the right to privacy have emerged stronger than ever. Especially in light of last week’s events, there are political issues to explore, but we all also have our own introspective work to do to grow in our own sense of modesty (tzniut).
A few months ago, a young Orthodox rabbi decided to “come out of the closet,” in a sense, when he publicly identified himself as an “LGBT ally,” referring to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder of Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice group, and a director of the UCLA Hillel, explained that he felt he had been quiet for too long and wanted to say what he felt was the truth.