Like all of you, I am angered and disheartened by the horrifying atrocities of ISIS. It is hard to be optimistic about a world seemingly gone mad. As a rabbi I am supposed to offer hope and comfort but I have to be honest. How can I offer hope in the face of such premeditated evil?
How can these terrorists justify their killing in the name of their twisted beliefs? When will we ever feel safe?
Our ancient sages once contemplated the evil of which human beings are capable, and they argued that it probably would have been better if God had not created us in the first place.
And then, with a whisper of hope, they said that since we have been created we must measure our deeds. Quite remarkable in the face of all the atrocities committed against my people throughout history.
My heritage instructs me to have compassion for others by teaching the importance of loving and caring for all who are created and it upholds the value of human life. This is what I asked the Iranian militants when I visited our American hostages in Teheran: “How can you call yourselves Compassionate Ones, the children of Compassionate Ones- when you treat the hostages in such a way?”
Surely, there are moral principles which should be shared by all religions. The great saying in my tradition, which signifies the real meaning of true religion I believe, is: “God wants heart.”
Our Bible says: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.”
In the light of all the senseless violence suffocating our world, how can I feel anything but anger.
Every day, in the month before the Jewish High Holy Days, we sound the Shofar, the rams horn, with it’s piercing sound, to remind us of the Day of Judgement and the eternal voiceless cry of the soul.
May the cry of the Shofar remind us of all the lives that were taken in San Bernadino and Paris and everywhere lives were taken so heartlessly.
May the plaintiff call of the ram’s horn remind us how fleeting and fragile this life is.
May the voice of the Shofar serve to comfort all who are wounded in body and spirit; those who lost loved ones and friends, and all whose hearts are broken by witnessing the pain of others.
May the loud blast of the ram’s horn drown out the shouts of cruel extremists who threaten us and who would destroy our lives and our freedom.
Now and every day yet to come may we find hope and act with strength in a world that is broken and needs healing.
And let us pray that all caring and compassionate human beings will not surrender to evil and will summon the courage and resolve to repair our fractured world.