Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not Perfect. Better. / Parshat Toldot 2014/5775

On Tuesday morning, November 18, 2014, two Palestinian terrorists from East Jerusalem, armed with a gun and meat cleavers, burst into Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem at 7:00 am; they brutally killed four worshippers and a police officer and injured another seven people before security forces shot them dead and ended their murderous rampage.

President Obama issued a statement that said, in part, there is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians. Secretary of State John Kerry also condemned the attack, saying, "People who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatched and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder To have this kind of act, which a pure result of incitement is unacceptable The Palestinian leaders must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, other peoples language and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path. Perhaps the most telling word is begin”—Palestinian leaders have yet to take a single serious step toward peace, nor even countering the rampant hatred that is taught, reinforced, and nurtured among their people. It comes at no surprise that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad immediately praised the attack and a Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called for more operations like [this one].

But operations like Tuesdays terrorist attack are not attacks on military targets: this was an attack on worshippers in a synagogue. This was not an attack on Israel as a political entity: this was an anti-Semitic attack against Jews. Those who have shielded themselves from the accusation that their anti-Israel and anti-Zionist stance was anything other than anti-Semitism no longer have a screen to hide behind.

This week we read Parshat Toldot, which begins with the story of the progeny of Isaac, who like those of Abraham, his father, are locked in conflict. In this generation, conflict begins quite literally in utero:
This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddam-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord responded to his plea, and his wife Rebekah conceived. But the children struggled in her womb, and she said, If so, why do I exist? She went to inquire of the Lord, and the Lord answered her, Two nations are in your womb; two separate peoples shall issue from one body; one people shall be mightier than the other; and the older shall serve the younger. (Genesis 25:18-23)

The twins in Rebekahs womb are Jacob and Esau. Esau, the progenitor of the Edomites, emerges first and is therefore the elder. Many centuries later, the Rabbis identified Esau with the Romans, whose oppressive and destructive policies culminated in the Destruction of the Second Temple and the decimation of the Jewish commonwealth in the first century of the Common Era. Traditionally, Ishmael, the half-brother of Isaac, is identified as the father of the Arab nations. In both cases, Torah suggests that the animus is eternal and derives from the very propinquity of brothers born to the same mother (in the case of Ishmael and Isaac) or who gestated together in the womb (in the case of Esau and Jacob). And indeed, the Jewish people and the Palestinian people gestated in the womb of the Middle East; Israel claims her small section of the womb and unfortunately, the Arabs claim the entire womb. In the case of both Jews and Arabs, claims to the land rest on a mixture of history and religious myth. It is being reported that the terrorists who murdered worshippers at prayer Tuesday were motivated by an exclusive Muslim claim to Har ha-Bayit, the hilltop in the Old City where the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located; it was here that the First and Second Temples stood long ago.

I have heard many people naively and simplistically say something along the lines of, Why cant they just sit down and make peace”—as if the situation called for the skills of a teacher sitting down with two kindergarteners who have been fighting on the playground and instructs them, Shake hands and make up. Would that it were so easy. But when has it ever been that way?

The Book of Daniel, which we seldom encounter because it is not part of the cycle of Haftarah or Festival megillah readings, has a fascinating and illuminating passage in which Daniel is brought before King Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dreams (following the motif of Joseph interpreting Pharaohs dreams in Genesis).  Daniel boldly says that no wise man, astrologer necromancer, or demonist can interpret the kings dream, but he, Daniel, can tell the king what God in Heaven is revealing through them, and it is none other than the secret of when the End of Days will arrive. Daniel describes a giant statue that appeared in Nebuchadnezzars dream:

You, O king, were watching and behold! a huge statue; this statue, which was immense, and whose brightness was extraordinary, stood opposite you, and its appearance was fearsome. This statue: its head of fine gold; its breast and arms of silver; its belly and thighs of copper; its legs of iron; and its feet, partly of iron and partly of earthenware. As you watched, a stone was hewn without hands and struck the statue on its feet of iron and earthenware, and crumbled them. Then they crumbled together: the iron, the earthenware, the copper, the silver and the gold. They became like chaff from summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away and no trace was found of them. And the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the entire earth. (Daniel 2:31-35)

Daniel proceeds to interpret for the king the meaning of the statue; Ive interpolated several explanations to make it easier to follow:

You, O kingto whom the King of kings, Who is the God of Heaven, has given a strong kingdom, power, and honor, and wherever people, beasts of the field and birds of the sky dwell, He has given them into your hand and made you ruler over them allyou are the head of gold. And after you will arise another kingdom inferior to you [the Persians], and then another, a third kingdom, of copper [the Hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great], which will rule the whole earth. The fourth kingdom [Rome] will be as strong as iron: Just as iron crumbles and flattens everything, and as iron shatters all these, it will crumble and shatter. The feet and the toes that you saw, partly of potters earthenware and partly of iron: It will be a divided kingdom and will have some of the firmness of iron just as you saw iron mixed with lay-like earthenware. As for the toes, partly of iron and partly of earthenware: Part of the kingdom will be powerful and part of it will be broken. That you saw iron mixed with clay-like earthenware: They will mix with the offspring of men, but they will not cling to one another, just as iron does not mix with earthenware. Then, in the days of these kingdoms, the God of Heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed nor will its sovereignty be left to another people; it will crumble and consume all these kings, and will stand forever [the End Time kingdom of God]. (Daniel 31:37-44)

Abarbanelidentifies the feet with Christianity and Islam, but given that the Book of Daniel was likely composed in the mid-2nd century BCE, his interpretation is clearly anachronistic. Yet his point is well taken in the sense that it is the nature of history that one kingdom passes and another takes its place. The Land of Israel, once the land of Canaan, saw the first and second Jewish commonwealths, and was ruled by the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans all before the Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Since that time, although it has been under the control of many entities, most recently the British (under the Mandate) no other sovereign country has existed in the land until the State of Israel was established in 1948. Yet it still ignites hearts and mindsand sadly inspires violence. Is there no end in sight?

Chipotle, under the stewardship of writer Jonathan Safran Foer, adorns it cups and bags with words aimed at Cultivating Thought. One contribution is this short piece by Steven Pinker,
Harvard professor of psychology who writes extensively on language, mind, and human nature, who offers us an alternative lens through which to view the world:

Its easy to get discouraged by the ceaseless news of violence, poverty, and disease. But the news presents a distorted view of the world. News is about things that happen, not things that dont happen. You never see a TV crew reporting that a country isnt at war, or that a city hasnt had a mass shooting that day, or that millions of 80-year-olds are alive and well.

The only way to appreciate that state of the world is to count. How many incidents of violence, or starvation, or disease are there as a proportion of the number of people in the world? And the only way to know whether things are getting better or worse is to compare those numbers at different times: over the centuries and decades, do the trend lines go up or down?

As it happens, the numbers tell a surprisingly happy story. Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages. Over the past 60 years the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted. Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick, and more live to old age.

Better does not mean perfect. Too many people still live in misery and die prematurely, and new challenges, such as climate change, confront us. But measuring the progress weve made in the past emboldens us to strive for more in the future. Problems that look hopeless may not be; human ingenuity can chip away at them. We will never have a perfect world, but its not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.

Pinkers view is positive and hopeful. Even amidst violence and tragedy, such as we saw Tuesday, there is still reason to be hopeful and to believe that better is possible. Perhaps that is enough to sustain us at times like this.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Monday, November 17, 2014

Women — It's 5775 / Chayei Sara 2014/5775

Equality for women has progressed in fits and starts in America, but on a global scale, the news is alternatively uplifting and terrifying. Boko Haram, a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist sect in Nigeria has abducted more than 500 women and childrenincluding the 276 school girls from Chibok last Aprilto abuse and sell as slaves. Human Rights Watch reports that ISIL fighters are buying and selling ethnically Kurdish Yazidi women and girls. An article in ISILs English language recruiting magazine, Dabiq, asserts, "We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women. Both groups justify using women and girls as sex slaves on the basis of Islamic theology (a notion soundly rejected as a perversion of Islam by the Muslim world at large). CNNs Ben Wedeman accurately characterized ISIL as living out an apocalyptic fantasy of rape, enslavement, and mass murder under a thin shroud of religion. It makes the continuing gender inequality in the United States seem trivial in comparison.[1]

It is often claimed that we find such primitive and egregiously immoral views in the Bible. Contrast the accounts on the front pages of Americas newspapers, then, with the account in this weeks parashah of Rebekah. Abraham has sent his trusted servant Eliezer to Haran to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Eliezer encounters Rebekah at a well. She invites him home, and Eliezer showers her with gifts of silver and gold, as well as clothing, asking her to go with him to a place unknown and far away to marry a man she has never met.

Poet Amy Blank envisioned Rebekah a dreamy romantic fantasizing about the man she would marry. Rebekah is so innocent that she takes her childhood toys with her; perhaps she is young enough to still play with them?


I left home easily
(as when the ready seed drops from the tree),
Carefreefor I knew not what

I stuffed my toys into the saddle-bag
braided my hair and for that dusty journey
wore my bordered gown.
I chose my camel and set out, light-hearted,
to enjoy adventurescarcely a pang
as tents and trees of home faded into wilderness.
But this I wondered:
how would it befit to ask that awesome man,
Abrahams servant, what manner
was he to whom I was betrothed?
Better to hold the question, I decided.
Isaac, after all was also kinsmanone more
fabulous Abrahams sonand I,
I would be his daughterdaughter?sister?wife?
Hardly a difference in my young mind.

Torah, however, tells the story of a woman, not a girl. Rebekah, we are told, is a betulah, a woman of marriageable age (Genesis 24:16) who is old enough and strong enough to draw water for all of Eliezers camels (Genesis 24:20). In fact, the text repeatedly calls her a naar (young man), which in synagogue is read naara (young woman), perhaps to underscore her strength of mind and body. There is no deception in Eliezers interchange with Rebekah, no attempt to exploit or abuse her, and there is no coercion either. In fact, Rebekahs family acknowledges her adulthood, leaving the decision of whether to return with Eliezer in Rebekahs hands:

When they got up in the morning, [Eliezer] said, Send me off to my master. [Rebekahs] brother and mother said, Let the girl stay with us another few daysten, perhaps afterward she may go. But he said to them, Do not delay me, now that Adonai has cleared the way for me; send me off and let me go to my master. They answered, Let us call the girl and see what she has to say. So they called Rebekah and asked her, Will you go with this man? And she said, I will go. Then they sent their sister Rebekah off with her nurse, with Abrahams slave, and with his men, bestowing this blessing upon Rebekah: Sister, may you become thousands of myriads…” (Genesis 24:54-60)

What is more, it is Rebekah who chooses her husband Isaacs successor to the Abrahamic covenant. Isaac favors Esau, but Rebekah is determined that Jacob is the better suited of the brothers, just as Sara saw to it that Isaac (and not Ishmael) succeeded Jacob.

This is not to say that Judaism has achieved equality of the sexes across the board, for certainly that is far from the truth. The Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative streams have, for the most part, achieved egalitarianism.  However, a large swath of the Jewish community continues to live as if it is the 19th century, or for that matter the 10th century, pretending that in the 21st century it is morally acceptable to live with the cruel inequality of women in marriage and divorce, in positions of religious and ritual leadership, and in matters of eidut (testimony), usually intoning the line that often betokens a lack of insight and imagination: thats how weve always done it.

There are no longer any excuses. The process of halakhah does not prevent change and it lies in human hands, as the Babylonian Talmud boldly asserts; used properly, halakhah facilitates a fluid change in response to moral sensibilities. We have a halakhically sound alternative to Kiddushin[2] that obviates the gross inequality of divorce and the problem of agunot[3] because divorce does not require a get: Brit Ahuvim[4]. Rejecting women eidut[5] is totally indefensible; women are equally reliable and trustworthy. The notion of kol isha[6] is offensive to both women (painting them as dangerous sirens) and men (painting them as animals without self-control). Suggesting that giving women an aliyah or inviting them to lead prayers and read Torah would be insulting to men is absurd; the very same men see women doctors, use the services of women lawyers, and must produce their licenses and registration for women police officers when asked. Its 5775.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

[1] Fewer than one-fifth of Congress and one-fourth of state legislatures are women. The United States ranks last in a list of 20 industrialized countries in a measure of government, societal, and business support for working women; assessment examined family leave, alternative work arrangements such as part-time employment and flex-leave. Among the 20 countries assessed, only the United States lacks paid parental leave mandated by law. Maternity leave at full pay is offered to only 16% of female employees in the United States. Discrimination in employment hiring, promotions, and salary continue. On top of this is the headlong conservative political assault on womens rights to make decisions concern their own bodies and reproduction.
[2] Jewish marriage, Kiddushin, is in its essence a covenant of acquisition in which a man acquires a woman. It creates the problem of one-sided divorce, in which, to end a marriage, a man must of his own free will, give a woman a get, a divorce decree. He cannot be compelled. Therefore he can also withhold a get to extort money or simply out of vengeance. Without a get, the woman cannot remarry.
[3] An agunah is a woman whose husband refuses to give her a get. She remains technically married and unable to marry another man, although her husband is free to marry another woman.
[4] Brit Ahuvim, an alternative to Kiddushin, is the brain child of Rachel Adler. It was further developed by her son and daughter-in-law, Rabbis Amitai Adler and Julie Pelc Adler. It is fully explained and documented at:
[5] Legal witnesses in a rabbinical court, usually to testify concerning personal status.
[6] Kol isha means the voice of a woman and refers to the supposed impermissibility of a man hearing a womans voice singing because, presumably, it will excited him sexually.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pass the Salt and Compassion / Parshat Vayera 2014/5775

This is an exceptionally full and rich parashah. It includes the account of the divine messengers who visit Abraham and Sarah to announce Sarahs impending pregnancy, and inform Abraham of Gods intension to annihilate Sodom and Gomorrah, igniting Abrahams sense of justice and effort to negotiate with God. Included also is the account of the divine messengers that come to Sodom to visit Lot, who is prepared to save them from the violence of the inhabitants at the cost of his daughters. Lot, his wife, and two daughters escape, but Lots wife looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. Abraham and Sarah visit Avimelekh, Isaac is born, Hagar and Ishmael are expelled and then rescued by God from death in the wilderness, Abraham prepares to sacrifice Isaac at Gods behest, and Rebekah is born. All the space of five chapters of the Book of Genesis.

Sandwiched in here is the bizarre story I mentioned briefly above concerning Lots wife. Poor woman! We know nothing of her lifenot even her nameand only how she dies. Lots wife merely looks back for a brief moment, and as a result she forfeits her life.

Torah recounts:

הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, יָצָא עַל-הָאָרֶץ; וְלוֹט, בָּא צֹעֲרָה.  וַיהוָה, הִמְטִיר עַל-סְדֹם וְעַל-עֲמֹרָה--גָּפְרִית וָאֵשׁ:  מֵאֵת יְהוָה, מִן-הַשָּׁמָיִם.  וַיַּהֲפֹךְ אֶת-הֶעָרִים הָאֵל, וְאֵת כָּל-הַכִּכָּר, וְאֵת כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הֶעָרִים, וְצֶמַח הָאֲדָמָה. וַתַּבֵּט אִשְׁתּוֹ, מֵאַחֲרָיו; וַתְּהִי, נְצִיב מֶלַח.

The sun was rising over the land as Lot was going down to Tzoar, and Adonai rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and firefrom Adonaiout of the heavens, overthrowing these cities and the entire plain, all the cities inhabitants and what grew in the soil. Lots wife looked back, and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:2326).

Why does she turn back? And why is she turned into a pillar of salt? Could she be struck by a morbid curiosity to view the disaster she is escaping? Its difficult not to look, as we learn every time traffic is tied up by rubbernecking. Rashi considers her fate a punishment of the middah kneged middah (measure for measure) variety. He is likely referring to a midrash in Bereishit Rabbah (51:5) where R. Yitzhak comments that Lots
wife was turned into a pillar of salt because she sinned through salt. The Rabbis created a backstory for this interpretation: The night the divine messengers visited Lot, his wife, knowing the depths of the inhospitality for which the residents of Sodom were infamous, went about from neighbor to neighbor requesting salt for her guests. In this way, the people of Sodom were informed that strangers had entered their city, and they converged on Lots door demanding custody of the visitors with the intent to do them violence.

Most commentators agree that turning Lots wife into a pillar of salt is a punishment, but lets recall that God instructs Lotnot his wifenot to look back.  In addition, Torah says nothing about punishment, nor even that God turned Lots wife into a pillar of salt, only that she became a pillar of salt. What is more, when God told Lot to flee Sodom, Lot vacillated:

וּכְמוֹ הַשַּׁחַר עָלָה, וַיָּאִיצוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים בְּלוֹט לֵאמֹר:  קוּם קַח אֶת-אִשְׁתְּךָ וְאֶת-שְׁתֵּי בְנֹתֶיךָ, הַנִּמְצָאֹת--פֶּן-תִּסָּפֶה, בַּעֲוֹן הָעִיר. וַיִּתְמַהְמָהּ--וַיַּחֲזִיקוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים בְּיָדוֹ וּבְיַד-אִשְׁתּוֹ וּבְיַד שְׁתֵּי בְנֹתָיו, בְּחֶמְלַת יְהוָה עָלָיו; וַיֹּצִאֻהוּ וַיַּנִּחֻהוּ, מִחוּץ לָעִיר.

As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying, Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city. Still, [Lot] delayed. So the men seized [Lots] hand, and the hands of his wife and his two daughtersin the Lords mercy on himand brought him out and left him outside the city.

God intervened in the form of the divine messengers who seize Lots hand and escort him out of the city. What is more, Torah goes to the trouble to tell us that Gods intervention was an intensional act of mercy. Why is Lots delay (implicitly disobeying God) met with assistance, while his wifes mere glance backward (which God never forbad) costs her her life? The traditional explanation that God punished Lots wife for looking back by turning her into a pillar of salt makes no sense to me.

Perhaps Lots wife has been misjudged by generations of readers who see the story as a simplistic one of disobedience and punishment.

Consider the possibility that Lots wife is concerned about the fate of the community she knows, her friends and neighbors who are experiencing a downpour of sulfurous fire from heaven. What must she have felt the previous evening as she watched as her husband, Lot, was prepared to hand over her daughters to a violent mob in order to protect compete strangers? Think of the pain she suffers for having left her daughters and sons-in-law behind in a city on the brink of extinction. Perhaps the salt is from the tears she sheds when she realizes what is happening and, like her remaining daughters, believes that the four who escaped Sodom are the only humans who remain alive in the world. Perhaps, as a result of witnessing the devastation and annihilation of her entire world, she dies inside. She is no longer able to move her body or function in the world. Trauma takes an enormous toll and PTSD is known to bring on a variety of severe reactions, including mental paralysis. Sleep paralysis is well documented among refugees[1] and has been noted in the folklore of other cultures.[2] Could Torah be preserving for us an ancient story of a refugee who suffered severe PTSD in the form of sleep paralysis? Or perhaps emotional numbness, a phenomenon noted by psychologists who work with women so beset by PTSD that they detach from the lives and bodies. Perhaps Lots wife is a literary description of such a woman. But most importantly, there is good cause in the text itself to rethink the traditional assumption that this is yet another story about disobedience to, and punishment from, God.

This reconsideration of the text occasions some thoughts about the confluence of judgment, reward-and-punishment, and shame: First, Torah is unfortunately mired in a theology of reward and punishment. The ancients explained the oscillations of history and the extremes of nature in terms of presumed divine judgment meted out to humanity. In the broader context of the story of Lots wife, we find epic judgment and punishment: two cities brimming with people are obliterated. The biblical perspective is clear: disobedience to God is shameful and brings down deserved divine punished. The Rabbis mitigated this theology to some extent, but perhaps not as much as we might like, and certainly not as much as we need. Lots wife is a case-in-point where the text does not support the ancient theological framework, yet the Rabbis adhere to it: midrash resorts to the explanationbeyond all reasonthat Lots wife is punished for turning around, thereby needing to concoct a story to justify the claim.

Some 15 centuries later, we are often stuck in the reward-and-punishment mindset, both with regard to interpreting Torah and in our lives and relationships. We are too often quick to judge others and decide what they deserve. And we often treat ourselves no better, feeling we deserve the poor treatment or suffering that comes our way. (Recently, a friend told me that for most of his life he was unsure if God exists, but entirely sure that if there is a God, God inflicts punishment on people; not surprisingly, he can be pretty hard on himself.)

Perhaps we would do well to focus on Gods response when Lot hesitates leaving Sodom. God displays chemlah, compassion and mercy, shepherding Lots family out of the destruction.

In the extreme, the judgment-shame mindset, which gives rise to the reward-and-punishment view of God, initiates incalculable violence and pain. We can learn a great deal from psychiatrist James Gilligan, who wrote Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic in 1997. Dr. Gilligan grew up in a violent home. His surgeon father beat his brothers ruthlessly and although everyone in town saw the bruises on the boys, no one ever intervened. Gilligan began working with violent patients in prison while completing his residency at the Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. He says he found himself

face to face with the deepest human tragedies on a daily basis. And I mean not just the tragedies these criminals had inflicted on their victims, but also the tragedies they themselves had been victims of in the course of their lives.

What I found was that the most violent among them, and many of those who weren't even at the highest level of violence, had been subjected to a level of child abuse that was beyond the scale of anything I had even thought of applying that term to the most violent people were really the survivors of lethal violence, either of their own attempted murders at the hands of one of their parents, or the actual murders of close family members who were often killed by other family members right in front of their eyes.[3]

I once knew a young boy, a resident in a psychiatric facility and school in Rhode Island. As a college student volunteer, I visited him each week. He had seen his father gun down his uncle in his own home. He did not speak and only moved when absolutely necessary. Week after week, I would take him for walks, show him games, read to him, yet it was as if he was only the empty shell, or appearance, of a child; it was as if he had died inside. Of course, that is not the case, but Lots wife reminds me of him.

In Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, Gilligan explains how shame, and its close cousin, disrespect, lie behind much of the violence committed by the most violent criminals. In an interview, he said that in his years treating the most violent offenders, he learned that there was something about the human personality or the human soul or psyche, whatever you want to call it, that is sacred. There are just some things that you don't do to a person's psyche. What dont you do? Ignore peoples humanity, treat them with contempt and disrespect, and smother them with shame. There is a cycle of violence that is initiated and nourished by shame, the very same shame that is evoked by reward-and-punishment thinking. This is not to say that discipline is not important. It is crucially important. But the best forms of discipline do not rely on shame and the coercion of reward and punishment. Dr. Miki Kashtan writes concerning Gilligans work:

The intimate links between punishment and shame and between shame and violence are described and explored in painful detail [in Gilligans book]. Moreover, Gilligan convinced me beyond remaining doubt that the very system of punishment we have created is itself a form of violence, often enough taking the very same forms that the people being punished engage in.[4]

For far too long, we have trafficked in shame; it is a highly coercive and controlling force. For far too long, we have entertained the theology that God rewards and punishes in a capricious mannerlike the worst of human beingsthereby justifying the same behavior in ourselves. We would do well to look, instead, to the acknowledgments of Gods patience and compassion, and find constructive ways to respond to those who hurt and offend us. Shame is crushing and fuels the cycle of violence.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman