Our Torah portion, Shoftim, has a couple of interesting opinions on the subject, and one in particular comes from a slightly new reading of a verse that I thought I'd already understood fully. I had not. But first, let me begin at the start of the Torah portion.
Which brings me to my re-reading of another verse. Soon after the parashah opens, we read a famous call to social justice: "Tzedek, tzedek tirdof," "Justice, Justice, you shall
All of this circles back to the month of Elul. Each of us needs to choose "for ourselves" the kind of leaders, methods, and community structures that we want to see in the world. We need to hold ourselves AND our magistrates & officials to a higher standard,
and we need to expect more of all of them. It also can't be all talk. We can't shout "Justice, Justice!!" and not employ just and ethical tactics in bringing those values into being. So take this time to start to ask yourself (and others) some tough questions. You still have a whole month before Rosh Hashanah (thank God!). But it comes faster than you'd think... With the start of a new year looming around the corner, how will you seek to make change and embody the values that you uphold? No one else can make these changes FOR you. You have to select them "Lecha," "for yourself." And consider holding up verse 20 as a mantra for Elul, in BOTH its meanings: We should double our efforts to seek peace and justice, AND we must do so in a righteous and compassionate way. Let the Season of Repentance begin!
Photos in this blog post: