In this week’s Torah portion Ki Tavo the twelve tribes are divided in half and placed upon two mountains facing each other, in the valley between the tribes the Levites yell out blessings and curses attached to our convenient with Hashem. I am unable to fathom how exciting it was to yell AMEN! after each proclamation. Imagine the excitement felt after a lifetime spent fighting and wandering to finally stand opposite the shore of stability and a new and better way of life.
The ancient Hebrews are commanded to raise pillars inscribed with the Torah and cast them in plaster once they settle in the Promised Land. This may seem odd but in actuality this act makes a lot more sense than say sending a multi-colored sheet up a pole. Flags are great when your working in government, fighting on the battle field, and letting your neighbors know, “hey I am originally from a distant soil”. Flags do not define a society and its people, declarations and laws do. I guess I just find flag wavers funny but would probably be just as bad if the ole Stars and Strips was really a nylon copy of the Constitution of the United States. Think about it when what you believe is represented in words and not shapes and colors being a misguided jingoist is really hard.
Today’s Jews do not present themselves as a written Torah cast in plaster but many of us do adorn our person with symbols used to represent the words inscribed within the Torah. Regardless if your plaster pillar is jewelry, Tzitzit, Kipot, a head scarf, a black suit, or even permanent ink resting within your skin you are by default saying I am this and this is what and who my people are. So be nice about things we all have emotions and we all have bad days but if you are outwardly representing your faith remember you are representing yourself, your family, me, that person other there, Hashem, and countless other sparks who have yet to descend into the Lower Garden. I know its hard to except judgment especially when passing it is so easy and almost instinctual, but every time you connect with another person you are erecting those pillars and you are shouting AMEN!
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah