Thought for Shabbat – February 16, 2018
Over the last few days, my mind has been conjuring images of Lady Macbeth. She can’t get rid of the imaginary spots of blood on her hands after her involvement of the murder of Banquo. “Out, out damned spot,” she exclaims, but nothing helps. The guilt doesn’t go away. The blood stays.
This image firstly came to mind when the government of Poland passed a law making it illegal to accuse the Poles of having been complicit in the Holocaust. Auschwitz is not Polish word, they said. They have gone so far as to warn Holocaust survivors that the law applies to them as well. All of this occurred despite the fact that not only did Poles work together with the Nazis to decimate the Jewish population of Poland, they also attacked survivors who came back after the war to move back into the homes that the Poles had taken for themselves.
No law or policy will wash the blood off the hands of the Polish people. Until they come to terms with the truth of their history, as long as they refuse to deny their actions, they will continue to
have the blood of Jews on their hands. Their law will have the same effect on the truth as Lady Macbeth yelling, “Out damned spot.” That is to say, no effect at all.
In the aftermath of yet another school shooting in America where 17 people were slaughtered, those in power offer cynical and meaningless thoughts and prayers. They refuse to take step one to curb the gun violence in our society by even one iota, one assault rifle. They throw up their hands and all mumble something from the same prepared script about mental health and hope that our short memories will kick in. Their concern is for their job, not for the victims. Their concern is for their contributions, not for human lives. And the blood of so many is on their hands as well.
Many of us were hopeful that some serious action be taken in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 where 20 first graders and 6 adults were killed. We were wrong. Since that time, according to the New York Times, there have been 239 school shootings with 438 people shot and 139 of those souls dead. Sixteen of the 239 shootings were mass shootings in which 4 or more people were shot.
There is nothing that will wash the blood stains off the hands of the Poles until they come to terms with their history. And there is nothing that will wash blood stains off the hands of our leaders who refuse to recognize that they must do something to stop the carnage in our schools, places of employment and elsewhere. This Shabbat we will pray for the souls who have unnecessarily and wantonly been taken from their families. We will pray that our society will not accept these murders as the status quo. We will pray that human blood becomes more important than blood money. The blood of our children demands it.
Rabbi Yaier Lehrer
Join us tonight as we continue our series of Adat Shalom shines. Your attendance at our services will be helpful this weekend. With no school on Sunday, our Sunday minyan at 9 am will need some help as well, as folks come to say kaddish.