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Noah E Abramowitz
ואף על פי כן, נוע תנוע

Thou Shalt Care (sic. The Bible, all of it)

There is no Mitzvah to care.  There is definitely nothing in the books that says that one must.  But some things don’t need to be written.

We know nothing about what the “corruption” which filled the Earth in the Beginning, which caused God to bring the Deluge.  Chazal speculate, but as all things in the text, this is still up for interpretation, and is not agreed upon.  The same goes for the people of Sodom.  We know they were cruel to strangers, but they had no other evident flaws.  Not that that one sin is not significant.  But we know that God thought of them as wicked and sinners.  Greatly so, as it were.  Morals, as such, are not those things defined by nationality, by religion, by politics.  Are you, or are you not, cruel to your fellow person?  When things are corrupt, we are expected to know that is the case, whether or not the books say so.  Because the Bible does not tell us what corruption destroyed the world, or what, up until the arrival of the guests of Lot, destroyed Sodom.  We just know there was evil.

As such, the reactions of certain figures to the awful fate of those in the Ukraine shows a lack of understanding of this principle.  How can I not think of my past, one might say.  I agree. It is important to remember what Amalek did to us.  But as all the Jewish philosophers in modernity have wondered, how still, can I think of a child, a prisoner of war, a slave, among the Amalekite people as my enemy?  As evil?  I agree, one cannot forget what a people has done.  But perhaps if one sees the individuals who are suffering here, the individuals whose ancestors did, but who they themselves did not, shoot our ancestors in Babi Yar, they will see a new picture.

I write this out of desperation and exasperation.  It is those who most believe in this state as a redemptive entity who are saying that we must remember the fathers who ate the grapes.  But Ezekiel 18 tells us, that God Himself swears that this is to vanish.  We are not to remember the fathers who ate the grapes and visit it upon their children whose teeth go black.  Each man dies by his sin, says Ezekiel.  We must allow the children who have not consumed those grapes to smile proudly, with clear teeth and conscience.

So is there a Mitzvah to care about what is happening in Ukraine?  No.  But do you need the books, or a Rabbi, or politicians, to tell you what is important, when it seems quite clear that our human instincts are telling us: Thou Shalt Care.  Thou Shalt Act.  Thou Shalt Give.  It is not for us to decide who deserves God’s punishment.  Sometimes, we must remember that God is in Heaven, and we are on Earth, and our words, as such, must be few on this topic, and on other topics of God’s intervention.

The books cannot tell us that we must act, because as people created in God’s Image, we should know that as a given.  The little we can do, we must do.  Otherwise, for what were we created?

Pop-up auctions and benefit concerts are the efforts of the few to do the little which they can.  We will not let Thucydides be correct from 2400 years ago, that the strong take what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.  Visit https://www.tikvaodessa.org/ to help, or email me at noah.abramowitz@mail.huji.ac.il for more information on tonight’s auction.

About the Author
Noah E Abramowitz, a diehard O's fan, aspires to be the next Uri Orbach, and enjoys freshly picked dates, black gritty coffee, and brewing and mixing quality drinks with friends. On Wednesdays We Wear Pink.
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