CLERGY CORNER: We are bound together

Posted on 27 June 2012 by LeslieM

If you look up the word “Independence” in the dictionary, you might find an archaic definition showing that the word refers to someone who is competent, someone who is able.

Of course, if you look up a very similar word – “independent,” you are more likely to see what you thought the other word independence meant: “not subject to control by others.” Then again, in Merriam Webster, you might also read “not bound by or committed to a political party.” Wow, there’s a definition of the word that probably surprises you.

I have been talking to a lot of people about this great country of ours lately, and, as I have done so, I have heard far too many people who are totally and utterly bound to a particular political party, much to the detriment of the entire country.

As a Rabbi, I cannot help but compare July 4th to the Exodus story in the Bible. You see, the story of the Exodus wasn’t just about personal freedom. It was about national freedom, and, while we rejoice in that great American document, the Declaration of Independence, July 4th isn’t just about individual independence. It is much more a celebration of our achieving national independence.

We, the American People, achieved independence from British tyranny. We no longer had to rely on Britain or British Rule. A new nation, a great nation, was born. But it is only if the various states of our nation, and the populace of each of those states, realize that it is what binds us together that makes the difference.

In the third verse of the Shema, we read about the Tzitzit, the fringes that are to be worn on the corners of our garments. When we read about the Tzitzit, we traditionally gather the fringes together in one hand. Let this be a reminder that, on this 4th of July (while we watch the fireworks displays together, whether we are white, black, yellow or brown … Jew, Christian, Muslim or Atheist … having come here from all corners of the Earth), we should focus less on our differences and more on what binds us together.

Let us think of Betsy Ross. She didn’t tear the material for the flag apart. No, she took individual pieces of material, separated by size, shape and color, and she sewed them. She bound them together.

Oddly enough, rather than Independence Day, perhaps we should be celebrating In-Dependence Day, for each one of us is a part of those Stars and Stripes – the Red, White and Blue … and maybe it is time for us to admit that we are dependent on one another, and this great country is dependent on each and every one of us.

As Neil Diamond wrote, “On a boat or on a plane, they’re coming to America.” I have talked with many people from overseas and, let me tell you something, there are still many people around the world who have the dream that we or our ancestors or our ancestor’s ancestors had. They long to be able to come to America. They long to raise their hand. They long to recite the oath that enables them to proudly say, “I am an American,” and with those simple words, they will feel more freedom then they have ever known.

May G-d Bless each of us and may He Bless these United States of America. Shalom my friends and a very happy 4th of July.

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring


Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and serves in this capacity in a number of Health Care settings in the area including Advocate Home Care Services and L’Chayim Jewish Hospice in Partnership with Catholic Hospice of Broward County.

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