How We Got Here

Remember the days of old; consider the years of past generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you” [Deuteronomy 32:7]. We need the historical awareness the Torah recommends.

Are we really “more polarized than ever?” There was a time when congressmen (no women) would arm themselves with clubs and knives, before the Civil War. Oh, and there was a Civil War.  Closer in time, in 1968, there were terrible assassinations, a horrific war, the withdrawal of a president from public life, shooting of college students by the National Guard and a political convention that almost exploded. 

After two World Wars and a communist regime that enslaved almost half the world, we have emerged. Troubled to be sure, but also making progress in areas of disease, poverty and equality. There is much to be done, and criticism is always valuable, especially when informed by an understanding of how we got here.

Sometimes it seems the only historical analogy one hears is World War II. A lot happened in human history apart from Nazis. Long ago Moses exhorted us to learn it. Heeding his wisdom will deepen the discussion of our present.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.