Sermon for Yom Kippur Day
But when you look at everyone around him – just look. This was a huge rally. And this photo was taken in 1936, by which time the disease of Nazism had spread to the entire country. Hitler’s power had been consolidated. The free press was no more. Same with the independent judiciary. There were no opposition parties. The Reichstag was destroyed. All the political enemies had been murdered or placed into concentration camps. The mentally ill were being euthanized. In a flash, democracy had yielded to a police state. Germany had become the fulfillment of George Orwell’s vision in 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
But the biblical model wasn’t simply so unique in ancient times simply because of the king’s acquiescence. Abraham Joshua Heschel asks how could the people endure this kind of defiance of the ruler? Time after time, the solitary voice of the prophet stood out against the entire power structure. And remember, in those days, there were no body cameras to record abuses. There was no New York Times or Washington Post to run to with the story. The prophets were the whistleblowers, judicial reviewers and the independent media, all rolled into one.
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שֶׁאֵין לְךָ אָדָם שֶׁאֵין לוֹ שָׁעָה וְאֵין לְךָ דָבָר שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מָקוֹם
"God gave us memory so we could have roses in December."
"As one gets older, one values every day."
"To be born a Jew is an accident. To live as a Jew is an achievement."
This is our moment to be alive.