As our festival comes to an end and we enter into Shabbat, let us take a moment to pause and reflect. On Shavuot we open our hearts and accept the Torah anew. We celebrate revelation, coming face-to-face with a vision of the world as it could be. We reaffirm the most fundamental of God’s commandments, law that shapes our worship of God, both directly and indirectly. God’s presence is everywhere: in every person and in the relationships we cultivate among us. When we give honor to others, we give honor to God. It is good to be reminded of such a basic idea, especially as we consider the acts of racism that occured this week, including the unjust death of Mr. George Floyd.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a legendary voice for justice, taught: “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference.” He explained that “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” It is important that we take heed of this lesson. We are all responsible for bringing about the world as it should be and may not allow ourselves to find any form of injustice tolerable. God’s presence is in every human being. To worship God means we must acknowledge God’s presence in all human beings. Like the Israelites, today we reaffirmed “naaseh v’nishmah,” “we will do and we will hear.” We have sworn to uphold the values handed down to us at Sinai. Now we must bear witness and come to fully understand the state of brokenness in which we live. May doing so give us the courage to honor God by standing up against all wrongs inflicted on others.