Omer – Day 44
Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu al s’firat haOmer.
Blessed be the Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through Mitzvot and has commanded us to count the Omer.
Hayom yom arbaim ve arba laOmer, shehem shisha shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.
Today is day forty four of the Omer, which is six weeks and two days of the Omer.
gevura be malkhut – strength within dominion; might within majesty
We won. I’m sitting here and I know that in this country, fundamentally, I’ve won all the ‘life is a game’ roulette spins. We are not at war. I can get enough to eat. I can get a good job. There are many luxuries that the world over envies. I win.
In many ways, a large number of first world residents live richer than kings used to. We have a lot of clout economically and strategically, and we use it as kings and queens always have, to satisfy our own needs and wants. Even when we want to help, often it’s the “alms to the masses, save the heathen children and bring them to our ways” kind of help. We blunder through the world like a big cheerful badly trained dog, crashing things to the floor and leaving disaster in our wake without even noticing.
We kings and queens – we destroy people’s lives. None of us wants to see ourselves as someone who kills – but just like the tired and hungry French people at the time of the revolution blamed every noble for their poverty, so there are groups today who would blame us. Our assumption that our strength automatically brings wisdom leads us time and again to try to make everyone think the way we do. We have noblesse oblige and big hearts after all! So, we end up with the messes that result when we try to turn everyone into a pale version of us.
For example, we end up with the legacy of residential schools. (And if you think that residential schools are not a Jewish issue, read some Holocaust literature, read some TRC literature, notice the matching language (like “Final solution to the Indian problem,”) think about it, and ask yourself what the words “Never again” really mean. Every Jew should be doing something to improve relations with the Native people. If anyone is to understand the issues on reserves, it should be former residents of ghettos and their descendants.)
You say this isn’t about you? This is Canada’s shady past? I would like to point out that while the last residential school did close in the 1990’s, the number of Native children in various forms of custody could easily be looked at as a sad extension. All of us who without thinking enjoy our everyday luxuries – we are parties to some very nasty crimes.
For presenting the commandment of “do not kill” to younger children, we chose “do not hurt others”. It is a natural and clear extension. We need to be aware of how our environmental impact and our social impact hurts others. Does that mean we should all give up all worldly possessions and go live in a third world country, or at least a reserve? I don’t think it’s likely – or necessarily helpful. We’d probably just end up creating more problems for our hosts. I think the key is “without thinking”. We need to think – we need to remember that we are very strong and we do have an effect and it is our job to be aware and be careful about what we do with that strength.
The more we stop and think and try above all to strive to limit the harm we do with our power – the more we truly exemplify the strength in nobility that this day is about.