Finding the capacity to love after the Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy

WASHINGTON: While preparing this week’s Torah portion, which has to do with the birth of Esau and Jacob, I cannot get out of my mind the devastating event that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to them. The tragedy comes from the same jealousy and hatred that has existed since the time of Cain and Abel, and Esau and Jacob. It still pervades the soul of humankind. Enmity against another continues to fuel the lust to destroy the lives of others out of jealousy and self-righteous hatred of others. We must increase our capacity to love

People, in the name of hatred, still convince themselves of the
justification of taking a human life.

As I write this message with a heavy heart following the Tree of Life tragedy, I want to take this opportunity to reach out to as many people as possible. I beg you, especially those of you who have been victims of hatred and jealousy themselves, to understand that if someone hates or dislikes you, the answer is to move on. We cannot change our enemies. We can only change ourselves and the response within our own hearts and minds.

To do that requires, no, demands, the purging within our own souls any desire for revenge, or hatred. If feelings of injustice. To be able to forgive our enemies. It’s not that we agree with their actions, but we agree with love, not hate.

When Cain killed Abel, or when Esau wanted to kill Jacob, they didn’t feel they were doing it for the wrong reason, they thought they were doing it for the right reason.

Hatred’s right and just reasons wither before our capacity to love
Unfortunately, most acts of crime happen because the perpetrator feels it’s for a right and just reason. Whether through mental illness or out of plain hatred, that is why they don’t stop. As difficult a task as it is we must individually break the hellish cycle of hatred. And to do that, we must break the cycle within ourselves.

We have to stop justifying reasons to be jealous or another. Or to hate each other. We need to activate within us a higher vision of possibility. Find a way to open our hearts to the good in one another.

Tree of Life Synagogue shooting: The right way for Jews, and non-Jews, to fight back
We must also restrict the inclination to fuel our own tendency toward bitterness. Bitterness, and the accompanying hate that is too often the response to a tragedy.

To the degree that we are unable to elevate our individual love, on a consciousness level, we all remain responsible for what happened in Pittsburgh. Until we can relinquish our own hatred within, we remain plagued by the experience of hatred around us.

May this message underscores the urgency for our own personal transformation toward forgiveness, love and compassion even for those that hate. The people of Pittsburgh are uniting in response to hatred with compassion for their neighbor, there is no better message to the world to help us heal.

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