It’s only a few days since Jews around the world spent 25-hours fasting, reciting so many words in the prayer book, trying to remind ourselves of the need to reach into our hearts & subconscious minds to reconnect with G-d, Creator and Master of the Universe.
How shocking to be taken out of our euphoric bliss yesterday by news of the brutal mass killing of 59 human lives – and the wounding of 527 others – who happened to love country music. The gunman planned with precision, using automatic weapons to rain down a hailstorm of bullets from the 32nd floor of a nearby Las Vegas hotel room.
Many will be struggling to ask how this might have been prevented. Could the police have acted more quickly? Should the hotel have paid more attention to his behaviour beforehand? How did he manage to bring so much ammunition into the hotel undetected? Is it time for stricter gun control?
New laws will likely be put into place, and hotels may even have to begin metal-scanning guests and their luggage for weapons – like at airports. But, sadly, lone wolf syndrome (the motive being suggested) is unpredictable and nearly always unpreventable. Once again, the United States will be seen as a country where, despite it’s status as a world leader, pockets of violence and hatred seem out of control.
We offer continuing prayers to the Almighty that as human beings we learn to stop taking the lives of others so casually and callously. Instead, we share in the grief of the bereaved and pray for the recovery of the wounded. Almighty G-d, hear our prayers now, just as You heard them at Neilah!
SUKKOT: FESTIVAL OF FAITHFULNESS
Sukkot is an 8-day festival (outside of Israel) that reminds us of our Faith in the Almighty and of how G-d protected Bnei Yisrael during our ancestors stay in the Midbar. According to the rabbis of the Talmud, Sukkot was also the time to commemorate the Heavenly Clouds of Glory which G-d provided to lead the nation through the Wilderness.
Over the generations, by leaving our homes especially during the in-gathering of the autumn harvest, we attested to our gratitude for bounty received and for basic necessities of food and shelter provided to us by G-d.
The relevance of Sukkot today is obvious. We live in a time when disparities between rich and poor have never been greater. It’s so easy for those of us who have much to think our success is our own and to ignore the lives of those who have little, to consider them less worthy of basic care and concern.
The message of Sukkot is that we too were once homeless, wondering from place to place without a fixed roof over our heads. We therefore know the suffering of the dispossessed. Sitting in our Sukkot we acknowledge our dependence on the Almighty – which ironically is meant to convey a deep sense of joy. For, in trusting G-d to provide our needs, we feel less anxious and more at ease.
Realising that others require the same comfort and stability gives us the opportunity to emulate G-d – in showing our ability to care for others. What could be more joyous than that!