The World Has Been Turned Upside Down

by Arliene Botnick, June 30, 2017

How, why does this keep happening? As far back as the story of Sodom & Gomorrah, the Rabbis understood the dangers of not only the existence of evil, but the dangers of actually giving the stamp of approval (the hechsher) to evil and punishing that which is good and right.

In the midrash based on Sodom and Gomorrah, the Rabbis explain why, when God says, “the outcry in Sodom and Gomorrah – how great it is”, God must “go down”. What outcry could force God to have to “go down”? The midrash tells of a scenario where a merchant and his daughter, coming as strangers to the town, are treated in the most inhospitable manner. The father is given counterfeit bills for his “real money” and then accused and punished for a crime he didn’t commit. His daughter, left orphaned, would perhaps have starved to death had it not been for a courageous young woman (an inhabitant) who shows kindness and goes against the cruel law of her land and tries to feed the orphaned daughter. When this act of tzedakah is discovered, rather than being praised, the young woman is tied to 2 posts, smeared with honey and bees sting her to death. Hence, “the outcry” was so great!

Good is punished. Right is condemned. Evil is lauded, kindness punished. It happened some 3000 years ago, and it still continues today, and that is most frightening.

In a recent lunch & learn, Professor Sylvia Solomon detailed the Dreyfus Affair, where, in spite of indisputable evidence proving his innocence, Dreyfus is found guilty. And in spite of indisputable evidence proving that the accuser Esterhazy was guilty, he is exonerated. It makes no sense.

In 1946, documented in the book “None is Too Many”, we are reminded that while surviving victims of the Holocaust were not welcome in Canada, Nazi criminals were! It makes no sense!

Just recently, we have learned the Israeli government has denied the Jewishness of Israeli citizens not converted under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate, and that they have reneged on their commitment to uphold the right of all Jews to pray at the Kotel – It makes no sense!

One of the most powerful countries in the world elected and seems still to support a leader who tweets like a belligerent teenager, feels he needs no daily briefings and “double” speaks consistently. It makes no sense!

The world is topsy-turvy. How can we “right it”? A huge challenge lies before us, a challenge we must accept. Our Torah tells us, “Justice, justice shall you pursue”. We cannot stop trying to make this a more just, more respectful, more hospitable world for all people. We have the potential to be “God like”. We all are created in God’s image. Let’s work to make that potential a reality and turn the world right side up!

Filed under: Educator's Message

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