By Cantor Rachel Goldman
I have spent an hour and a half flipping between a blank document in Word and seven tabs in my browser, all open to different articles on “What is going on in Israel right now.” I feel like every time I see the latest headline, I get thrown or sad and wonder what the point of writing is. Sometimes you just feel like there is so much hatred in the world that you feel powerless…that your own love won’t make a difference.
Then I realized, maybe this tendency to give up and feel useless is exactly what I should be writing about. Last week, my colleague Rabbi Mark (who is taking a much-needed vacation) wrote about the internal terrorist and I very much would like to echo some of his sentiments. Everyone has a Yetzer HaRa (an “evil” inclination) that generally uses a language of lies to justify a steady line of negative self-talk. In every way, it is the internal terrorist: it takes prisoners, demoralizes, and has the potential to be deadly. I instruct a lot of my clients, in their first few weeks of treatment, to write out their thoughts so they can realize how many of them are lies. It’s a method of identifying their Yetzer HaRa and what sorts of things it will tell them. Lies can be paralyzing— like the lies I told myself as I started to write this article: “Why bother? All this hate in the world, how could I possibly make a difference? I can’t.”
Oh, hello Yetzer HaRa, it’s nice to see you again. It’s been a while since I’ve had to reason with you, and this time I can tell you this: if ever there was a time to drown the world in love, it’s now. Yes, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Sometimes the most cliché lyrics can actually speak more truth than a bombardment of rationale.
Everyone has a choice in life, a constant choice: Love or Fear. I am sad today because I see the world choosing fear over and over again…fear turns into rage, outrage, violence, panic, and blind hatred. Never once has pure love led to any of those things, at least not that I am aware of.
I can’t do much, but I can do this: I can choose love over war. Today, and every day. And I ask you out there, whoever is reading this, to do the same. Sometimes love can be scary when putting it out in an unknown world….but that’s why Faith is such an amazing thing to have on your side.
Shabbat Shalom b’ahavah.