Barack Obama was right

Friday, 11 November, 2016 - 5:06 am


Dear Friends,

Clinton or Trump, Democrats or Republicans. Either America has gone crazy, or else it has come to its senses. The world is in turmoil; the two sides were never so divided, so extreme. The Jewish perspective is especially fascinating. The conservative Satmar Chassidim and the liberal Jews somehow joined together in their support of Clinton, to the extent that some sat Shiva over the elections. And besides them were whole communities who supported Trump actively and awaited him like one awaits the Messiah.

And only Barack Obama said something very wise: “The sun will rise in the morning.” Guess what? He was right.

He was right, because the rising sun is what will come and reveal to us in time who is good and who isn’t, and whether there is reason to be joyful or otherwise.

But this sentence might be dangerous as well. We might become indifferent and fail to act, thinking, what difference does it make, anyway? No matter what, the sun will rise in the morning. The more I think about it, the more I see that one can call this “worshipping the sun.” When we latch on to that thought, we turn the sun into a god. We have to remember that it is not the sun doing the work; it is only supplying the light by which we can see what people did or are doing.

I do not know if Avraham Avinu, when he was searching for the Creator of the world and removed the sun from the list of candidates, did that from the same reason. But I know that Avraham Avinu taught us to do and not to be indifferent; to care and to always move forward. Avraham Avinu got involved in what was going on around him, was concerned for people he did not know, offered them Turkish coffee in a small cup with a hot pita straight from the oven, and perhaps also a bit of olive oil prepared by Sarah. Avraham did not say, “The sun will rise in the morning” when G-d decided to destroy Sodom. He prayed for them as if they were his voters before elections. Avraham cared.

The sun will rise tomorrow, of course. The question is what will we see by its light, and as long as we are alive, we should do things, and do them because we care.

And if we are talking about caring, it is right to mention Leonard Cohen z”l who passed away this morning. The day after the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973 (5734) he got on a plane in Greece, came to Israel and performed for the soldiers in order to encourage them. He cared, and did what he was able to do for them. And in the morning the sun rose and shone on his deeds.

Tomorrow morning, too, the sun will rise. It will be interesting to see what its light will reveal to us.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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