I have an important message this week. I want to share it not because of a political, religious or social agenda, but rather because the times and circumstances demand it.
There is no excuse - not political, not religious, not social, and not to score more followers and likes - for anyone, from any faith community, to single out a vulnerable minority group for hate, to describe them as evil, and to imply that as a group they threaten children. The individual behind the ‘Libs of Tik Tok’ social media phenomenon did exactly that to the LGBTQ+ community this week. We don’t need to look far to see the outcomes of hateful rhetoric. It doesn’t matter if it is Orlando or Monsey, Pittsburgh or Colorado Springs, hate is hate.
As a Jewish community we have diverse perspectives on political, religious, and social issues. We may not agree either within or beyond our community with much that our neighbors believe, and that’s ok. Difference is ok. Different dress, different observance, different goals and aspirations. All ok. And these differences are all ok because of the freedoms afforded to EVERYONE in this country. Many of us take those freedoms to be different for granted EVERY DAY. That is why it is hard for us to understand this targeting of the LGBTQ+ community. And it is more than disappointing; it is inflammatory & likely dangerous.
I don’t hew to political extremes in either direction. I find that I am more religiously observant than some, and less so than others. I have a job, a family, a roof over my head, for which I thank God, and which is more than many, but there are also many with more advantages than I. In other words, I am a lot like many of you in political, religious and social terms. And I cannot be silent about this.
In our tradition there are two concepts I find applicable here. One is the idea that one who shames his fellow in public it is as if he committed murder. The other is the concept of ‘kal v’chomer’ learning the more harsh from the less so. If shaming is likened to murder, how much more so is hateful speech like I have described above?
In the book of Mishlei - Ecclesiastes - we read ‘Her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.’ We say these words every Shabbat as we return the Torah to the Ark. Let’s follow that thought, and stand against hateful speech. Today I stand with our friends in the LGBTQ+ community.