Shabbat Message 11/2/2012


Posted on Nov 2, 2012 • Event Date: Dec 31, 1969

Rabbi Michael Werbow, Congregation Beth Shalom
November 2, 2012 17 Heshvan, 5773

Weigh candidates fairly when voting

Imagine the urgency with which Abraham greeted his guests. As soon as he saw them coming he ran to greet them. Once he welcomed them and offered them something to eat, we are told that he “hastened into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quick, three seahs of choice flour, knead and make cakes.’ ” He wasn’t even using full sentences to give instructions.

Next, we again hear the word for run as he ran to the herd, picked a calf “tender and choice” and gave it to the servant to “quickly” prepare it. We can look at all this running around in two different ways. Either we see it as Abraham’s desire to satisfy his guests as quickly as possible, or, we can view it as he not giving the preparations the time and attention that they really deserved.

Some things should be easy and quick and some things should take time. Some things we should get right to and some things we should take appropriate time to contemplate our actions before making the first move. Many of us will remember the commercials for Paul Masson wines. (Yes, I thought it was Ernest & Julio Gallo, too.) The key line was, “We will sell no wine before its time.”

It is all too easy to rush through things. Especially in our fast-paced world, where so much information is at our disposal whenever we want it and whenever more appliances are meant to make our lives easier, we can learn a lesson from Abraham. It wasn’t until all the rushing around was done that he was finally able to sit with his guests, spend some quality time and hear the important news that they had come to share. Abraham jumped right into action when he saw the visitors. Many of us jump as well when we are confronted by something that reinforces our opinion about a particular
matter.

Soon we will be casting our votes for state and national elections. Throughout the election season, the various candidates have been courting our votes and in doing so share things that cast themselves in a positive light or, more likely, that disparage their opponent. When we hear this information, if it reinforces our opinion we are quick to embrace it, but if it challenges our thoughts we are just as quick to dismiss it. We are quick to take a stance. How many of us have really put our beliefs to the test? Do we spend time evaluating and re-evaluating these beliefs or do we hold onto them blindly without ever subjecting them and ourselves to scrutiny. And, if we do come up against challenges to our beliefs, are we willing to face these challenges and stand up for our beliefs or do we quickly allow our beliefs to be overcome and find it easier to say we don’t believe? Most of us probably fall in a third category. We just say we are unsure and then we don’t have to take the time to do the hard work either way. It is incumbent upon us to exercise our right to vote. We should do so with the best knowledge of the candidates and their positions. However, in doing so, do not be too quick to accept or reject an idea from one candidate just because you have already made up your mind.

Learn from Abraham’s example in a later episode. When he is told by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham takes a more methodical approach. He saddled his donkey; he chopped the wood; he went on the journey with Isaac. He didn’t pass any of this off to servants so it would get done quicker. He knew the importance of the act and did it all himself in a thoughtful manner. Let us all approach our responsibility to weigh the candidates in a similar way. Do the appropriate research, weigh all the issues that are important to you and be methodical when making this choice. Some things just shouldn’t be rushed.

This column, reprinted from the Jewish Chronicle, is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.

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