Dealing with Heartbreak Over the World

In last week’s newsletter, I wrote about being amazed at the beauty and wonder of the world. This week, the news about Israel and Palestine is bringing heartbreak to us, with more violence threatened. Parents are being instructed to remove access to social media for their children, as there may be graphic videos of the atrocities posted this weekend.

I have spoken at length with Rabbi Reice and sent our love to Shir Ami. I am thinking of them, and our other Jewish friends, so many who are connected to people in Israel.

I am thinking of Palestinian friends and all of the innocent lives being threatened.

And I am remembering back to the aftermath of 9-11 in this country, and how so many people of color were targeted – not only those of Arab descent, but Sikhs as well, because they had brown skin and wore turbans. I worry again for them, as well as for the anti-semitism this may unleash.

When Rabbi Reice and I talked, she shared with me a commentary that her mentor wrote about Psalm 122, which she has been thinking of this week. In this psalm, starting at line 6, it says:

“Pray for the peace of the City of Peace: May those who love you find repose. May there be peace in your palace, Respite on your ramparts. For the sake of my brothers, my sisters, my friends, let me say: Peace within you.”

Rabbi Richard Levy writes that line six is more literally “Ask the peace of Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem is popularly assumed to stem from the root of the word for peace, shalom.”

Rabbi Levy offers this spiritual application:

“The seats of royalty and the palaces are gone; the tribes are so widely dispersed that we no longer know who belongs with whom. And yet Jerusalem has been re-built, a Citadel of David still stands, and the poet’s prayer is needed as much now as it was when he wrote it: May those who love you find repose (v. 6). We know too that some of the people who love her do not really love us. For Jerusalem transcends us all, and those who guard her gates need to protect her for all who need to be nurtured by her. This psalm reminds us that Jerusalem is more than a place on a map or in the headlines; it is the place whither we once upon a time ascended with our tribes to testify to our obedience to God. A prayer for Jerusalem is still included in the daily Amidah, not only for the sake of its residents but also, as our poet notes, ‘for the sake of my brothers, my sisters, my friends’— wherever they live. Jerusalem’s well-being affects us all. It elevates us; it helps us to ascend.”

Pray for peace.