By Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
Some of the stories in the Torah seem like what we would hear about on the TV news; stories about families not getting along, threats and killings, stories about lies, deceit and rape. The stories are about wrestling, not only with others, but with ourselves.
I often ask people who are low in spirits and feel stuck in darkness some questions. One is what they do in the morning and often their answer is they turn on the news.
And when I ask the same people what they do before going to sleep, they tell me that they get into bed and turn on the news. There goes any hope of having sweet dreams.
Many get so upset over the newscasts that they wrestle with themselves and with the covers on their bed all night long. And then they can’t figure out why they feel so miserable in the morning.
We are surrounded by bad news and it often seems that we are surrounded by bad people as well.
Have you ever watched someone who is behaving wickedly? If you have, you might have noticed an odd thing. You see, the first time someone commits a particular sin, you can actually tell from their facial expression and body language that they are wrestling with themselves as to whether they can actually do such a thing. But as they keep committing the same wickedness over and over they can become immune to that inner struggle, that self wrestling match.
We have people who thrive on stirring up trouble. They may try to tell themselves that they are doing it for a holy purpose, but they soon become victims of their own point of view and refuse to accept any other version of events. They stir the pot and others are grossly affected.
Take the case of the recent killing in Ferguson.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know who was in error, but I do know that the pot was stirred to the point that, if anything but the verdict that the mob wanted was given, well, the threats were already there.
And, as could have been predicted, there were those who took it as an excuse for looting, for hate and destruction.
And those who sat glued to the news went into the usual diatribe that things have never been this bad, that the world as we know it is falling apart.
But if you watched the news really closely, you might have caught a moment where the darkness was overcome by a very bright light.
A police officer noticed a young boy crying and motioned for the lad to come to him. Can you imagine how scared that young boy must have been being called over to a white police officer.
He was shaking a little but the officer calmed him.
“Why are you crying?” the officer asked.
The boy replied that he was sad about the protest and sad about all that was going on in the world…
The officer and the 12-year-old went on to talk about school and summer vacations. Having comforted the boy, the officer looked down on the ground and saw the sign the lad had been carrying (“Free hugs”) and asked if he could have one … and there it was for all to see on the news.
That little boy and that officer are wondrous examples of how things can be. I would reward 12-year-old Devonte and Sgt. Barnum with kindling the first two candles on the Chanukiah (The Chanukah Menorah) as they are great examples of adding light to take away the darkness.
And I would give them a coupon book good for unlimited hugs whenever and wherever they should need them.
Shalom my friends,
Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
And while you’re at it, why not stop by Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach (201 S. Military Trail, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442) on a Saturday Morning for services and a free hug! And believe me, you haven’t had a hug until you have been hugged by Rabbi Ezring. LOL.