Learn from Congregation B’nai Chaim: Love God, love your neighbor

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Rabbi Marc Rubenstein
Rabbi Marc Rubenstein. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Rabbi Marc Rubenstein, Special to Valley News 

This week’s Torah portion, Dvar Torah, talks about serving God in our homes and in our community. What does it mean to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might in these pandemic times?

There is a voice in our tradition – a voice at once arresting, beautiful and strong – that resounds like a shofar and spans the centuries. It is the voice of supreme morality and justice. It is the voice of tremendous love for humanity.

You hear it in the prophet Amos when he said, “Let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream,” in Amos 5:24.

You hear it in the prophet Micah when he said, “It has been told you, O humanity, what is good, And what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice, And to love goodness and to walk modestly and humbly with your God,” in Micah 6:8.

And you hear it in the Torah, in the passage we read each and every day in the afternoon prayers, which says: “Do not stand idle while your neighbor bleeds . . . Love your neighbor as yourself,” from Leviticus 19:16, 18.

My friends, our neighbors are bleeding. They are crying out for love and goodness. They are in desperate need of justice and righteousness.

Our neighbor is  not thousands of miles away – on another continent. They are near to us in terms of location, our neighbor is also close to us emotionally and spiritually. Each person is bone of our bones. Each person is flesh of our flesh.

I am talking about our neighbors suffering for COVID-19. We are our brother’s keeper. By wearing a mask in public, we protect each other. Many people have been following the horrific events in the media taking place every day. We’ve seen it in the newspapers, and we’ve witnessed it on TV.

Yet, I must tell you: As Jews who know – only too well – the horrors of loss of human life. So we cannot remain silent about not wearing masks in public. We have a moral obligation to speak out and to take action – to stand up, raise our voices and do something to stop this massive tragedy of people by trying to save each other’s lives.

Good and decent people can save lives by speaking out and taking action. Tell people to wear masks when they are not. I strongly believe our Jewish history and ethical religious tradition demand that we speak out and take action when we see people not wearing masks in public.

So what can we do?

First, we can  also help support humanitarian relief agencies – who are addressing the needs of hundreds of thousands of displaced victims with food, water, medical in those in need of medical attention who are not getting it We need medical supplies to take care of the sick with COVID-19 all over the world and in the United States.

Second, we can contact our congressmembers, senators and president – urging them to make masks mandatory.

May we resolve to speak out and take action for the people of all nations. May we do all that we can to help ensure that the COVID-19 deaths stop and that the victims receive help. And may God be with the people of all nations to reduce the number of fatalities. Amen.

Congregation B’nai Chaim is located at 29500 Via Princesa in Murrieta. For more information, visit https://www.bnaichaim.com or find them on Facebook.