I just wanted to get on record some reflections on what it's like as a rabbi and leader right now, a snapshot in time.
I have spoken previously about the prophetic verse Ha-emet v'ha-shalom ehavu -- "Love truth and peace." In the Talmud, the verse is quoted in the course of an exploration of a debate between the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai. They had some major, nontheoretical and nontrivial disagreements about the laws of marriage. And yet they allowed their children to marry each other. After trying without success to imagine scenarios when the disagreements didn't matter, the Talmud says that both schools of thoughts were loving both truth and peace. Yet they remain in tension, or at least in some cases truth seems to take a backseat.
I have certainly been living this tension for the past month. I am spending time, deliberately, with people who voted both for President-Elect Trump and Secretary Clinton. (The Talmud says that the School of Hillel is followed because they mention their opponents' arguments and positions before their own. That's why I am making it a habit to refer to the president-elect first.) I am trying, without straying from the truth about bigotries and sexism, to be a bridge of peace. It is not easy, but I am committed to it.
In the Torah this week, Rivka experiences twins fighting in her belly. She says, "If so, why is this that I am?" and goes to explore the issue with God. God tells her, "two peoples are in your belly, and two nations from your innards will separate." I read Rivka's question to be -- what is the meaning of "I", the unity of myself, my integrity, in a situation where two opposing forces are jousting, and they are both so connected to me that I feel the struggle in my body?
I have felt most days since Election Day this tension in my body. I seek not to lose my integrity, my I-ness, even as I listen carefully to the two or more perspectives that are vying with great energy.
I am grateful to the many congregants who have talked to me individually, in my office and on the phone and in coffee shops, and to the groups who have gathered with me too and let me structure some conversations. More to come. I will shortly post on a separate page a number of resources and ideas, to work against hate and division.