Providing Sanctuary After Charlottesville: Re’eh 2017

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: At a time when our country has once again been stained by hateful acts of white supremacists, how can best ensure that our homes – be they personal residences or places of worship – are truly open and welcoming to those who love peace and tolerance?

Our Torah portion this week speaks of what makes our holy spots sacred, but paints an incomplete picture:

The Pitch: “[L]ook only to the site that the Lord your God will choose amidst all your tribes as His habitation, to establish His name there. There you are to go, and there you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices, your tithes and contributions, your votive and freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks.” – Deuteronomy 12:5-6

The Swing (only one this week, you’ll see why): “What is the [looking] implied in this verse? It is an ‘inquiry’ or ‘investigation’ into the conditions that caused the destruction of the Temple, followed by an effort to correct them so that the Temple may be rebuilt. The cause of the destruction of the Second Temple was the hatred without just cause which disrupted the unity of the Jewish people. The one remedy for this evil is the restoration of mutual love and unity in Israel … To become as one again, and then ‘you are to go’ to Zion as one person, a people welded together by the force of unity.” – The Rabbi of Ger

Late-Inning Questions: The Rabbi of Ger reminds us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of egregious hatred (sinat hinam). Do we do everything we can to denounce hatred in our midst? On an individual level? On a communal level? In light of the repugnant neo-Nazi activity in Charlottesville, how can we bolster our own communities to be a true sanctuary for people of all races, creeds, and genders?

Shabbat Shalom!