Land of the free, home of the brave

By Rabbi Stefan Weinberg
Parashat B’har

“Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 25:10)

This vision has served as a rallying call for this great nation during the past 246 years. Engraved on the Liberty Bell which resides in its final resting place — Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia — these words serve as a reminder that no one is to remain in bondage, ensuring the dignity of every person in the United States of America. 

As we approach Memorial Day weekend, we Americans can ill afford to overlook the status of our country. The ultimate sacrifice made by the proud men and women who have served our country — defending democracy and promoting freedom — is being challenged wherever we look. 

We are besieged today by too many who refuse to acknowledge we are the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our streets have become war zones as guns are used to “settle” arguments. The repercussions of the leaked Alito brief have sent our country into another panic attempting to find a resolution to an issue that carries so much passion and angst. How can we consider detaining immigrants at the border but refuse to give the infants who are under our custody baby formula?! Expressions of white supremacy — the latest tragic killing occurring in Buffalo — and antisemitism, so often disguised as anti-Zionism — Harvard’s recent Crimson editorial, all attest to a nation struggling to maintain its moral compass.

Our Jewish tradition reminds us in exceptionally clear language in Massekhet Sanhedrin, “Who says your blood is redder than his?” We are equals before our Creator and we must find a way to work together. Regardless of the color of our skin, the religion we adhere to, the political persuasion that motivates us, we must find a way to compromise, to speak to one another, to focus our attention on the many aspirations we share.

The United States of America was founded on the ideals of our Jewish Bible. The clarion voice of our texts has served this country from the moment of its birth. Today, we find ourselves overcome by a lack of balance, not knowing how to navigate the competing claims of religion, government, individual rights and communal responsibilities. 

May the principles of the Bible that so many of us adhere to serve as the inspirational text to guide our nation back to a sense of renewed purpose and shared vision. 

Rabbi Stefan Weinberg serves Congregation Anshai Torah in Plano.He is a member of the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas.

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