Trayvon Martin. Evolution. Gay marriage.
There are a ton of issues in the United States that are discussed, chewed over and dissected down to their most minute details. Very often, it is Jews that are leading the charge one way or the other, whether they’re leading Yom Kippur services at Occupy Wall Street, fighting voraciously for or against gay marriage or just sharing the Kony video on their wall. This passion seems to be equal in all Jews, no matter which way they argue and no matter how religious or secular they happen to be. And it’s beautiful.
It’s beautiful to see that Jews care, that they’re passionate and they want so badly to change the world. There’s no bigger testament to the fact that we are the chosen people.
But it’s also ugly.
It’s ugly that these issues, which while maybe inherently important in their own context, are wasting the energy of such powerful amazing people. It’s ugly that Jews spend hours out of their week on the computer debating about Israel or reading and posting articles about Trayvon Martin or getting in loud debates about gay marriage. These things, while definitely interesting, important and deserving of attention, are also big fat energy-suckers.
The yetzer hora, in the cloak of holiness, is coming to people, telling them “Hey, this issue is really important! People need to know about this! Let’s argue about it! Let’s debate it!”
Meanwhile, the more important issues: growing oneself and using one’s abilities and skills to remind the world that there is one G-d, one that has made the world glorious and beautiful and completely united … all these issues are put on the back burner. Sure, we acknowledge them to be true, and many of us do some small dose of talking about it in one way or another… but think about how much time and energy most of us spend arguing about Israel online, or debating this Trayvon Martin business, or accusing some other person of being evil because they are for or against gay marriage. It’s ugly how much time we spend on these things. Not because of what they are, but because of who we are.
Because we are an elevated species, because issues that may be significant in a sense are not nearly as important to us as other things. Such as helping the world unite under emuna and bitachon in G-d.
It’s only after G-d truly becomes our primary concern that all these secondary and tertiary issues can be dealt with in the proper context. Fine, so legalizing gay marriage is a big debate, but at the end of the day, what really matters, whether you are for or against gay marriage, is how we deal with someone who is gay. If you treat him or her like a good person, like an inherently powerful person who deserves respect, then no matter where you stand on the issue, you are doing G-d’s work.
The absolute worst of all these debates is the halachic ones that tend to rage on Facebook and some Jewish blogs. People spend so much energy and time debating halachic issues as far-ranging as settling Israel to whether OU meat is kosher.
These debates are the worst because they are the most seemingly-holy but are in fact the most lowly, the most ridiculous and the biggest wastes of time. Since when is halacha something so absolute that you can have such a strong opinion that you can insult a person and deride him and call him a bad Jew? Don’t we all keep different levels of kashrut depending on who we follow? Don’t we all hold differently depending on our strain of belief, depending on our rav, depending on so very many things? And even on the things we do all agree on, how many of us are fully doing all the mitzvahs perfectly?
These debates are sucking away Jews’ souls because they engage us in the exact opposite discussions we should be having. We should be giving each other strength, we should be encouraging each other, we should be supporting each other, and educating each other. A Jew is simply a support system for another Jew, and the Jews as a whole are a support system for the world, and when we forget to support each other we do the entire world a disservice.
It’s time we let go of the distractions. It’s time we stopped getting angry at each other. And it’s time we work together and bring the world back to the way it was meant to be from the day it was created and even higher. May it happen now.