By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
The problem with Redemption is that most people don't believe in it! I watch and participate with people all day, each day and I am amazed that, while most people give lip service to the idea of Redemption, very few believe they and/or others can achieve it. I have dealt with this all of my life, as I look back. I didn't believe in Redemption when I was a drunk and a criminal. I certainly didn't believe others really changed. I bought into the lie that "leopards don't change their spots." Until I learned Torah and T’Shuvah, it was impossible for me to accept the possibility of change. Yet, every revolution is a statement of Redemption/change. It is so hard to believe, for most humans, however.
As we get ready for the Inauguration, I am struck by how difficult it is for the Congress to redeem itself through working together and trust each other. I am struck at how difficult it is for people to accept an African-American as President. "Put the White back in the White House" was a slogan in the last campaign. While this was a small minority of people who ascribed to this statement, there was also a small minority who repudiated this slogan! This is the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Declaration and some people still believe in the inferior nature of African-Americans! We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday this weekend and he was all about Redemption! Yet, I ask how many people really believe in Redemption?
Last Shabbat, David Siegel, the Consul General of Israel here in Los Angeles spoke at our services. He spoke about Israel being the beginning of Redemption and Beit T’Shuvah being the place where Redemption becomes fulfilled. Yet, even with our success, it is difficult for people to really believe others have been Redeemed and are Redeeming themselves. Why?
I think I have one of the reasons; it just came to me while writing this. When we support institutions, countries, and communities that are actively redeeming themselves and others, it places a burden on us to look at ourselves. Counsel General Siegel was eloquent in his words and inspiring with his deep Spiritual Commitment to Redemption. He saw it in action and recommitted all of us to work on Redeeming ourselves, each other and our Countries. He was/is unafraid to look at himself, his community and his country? Do we have his courage? Most of us, I have found, don't!
I challenge President Obama, Vice-President Biden, the Cabinet, and the Congress to dedicate themselves through action rather than rhetoric to redeem our economy, our people and our country. I challenge all of us to dedicate ourselves to the work of personal redemption rather than just lip service. I challenge all of us to support organizations that are involved in Redemption of the Human Spirit! Then we will be truly on the road to Redemption and be involved in the work we are created for: making our corner of the world a little better than we found it.