Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, the day we remember the victims of the Shoah. In Judaism, memories are not static things, they are tools we use for improving the world.
The challenge is that we are human, and therefore creatures of habit.
There is a concept in history that generals always fight the previous war. Strategies of the last war are imported into the next war, regardless of whether the realities of the world have changed in the interim. Habits of warfare keep the world locked in conflict, as we import our previous conflicts into our new ones. It ensures that warfare is based on ‘might makes right’, and not on motives of morality.
When we remember the Shoah, we do not focus on the warfare, we focus on moral questions that remain global challenges. The Talmud answers the question of moral responsibility with a clear message:
‘All who can protest against a wrongdoing of a family member, and does not protest, is accountable together with their family. All who can protest against a wrongdoing that the people of their city are doing, and does not protest, is accountable together with the people of the city. All who can protest against a wrongdoing done in the whole world, and does not protest, is accountable together with all the people of the world.’
This week’s parsha is called ‘Acharei Mot’, ‘After the Death’. The name challenges us to think of the time after a trauma has occurred. Do we only form a memory of mourning? Do we continue to fight old traumas over and over? Do we seek a path forward?
The world today is in a vulnerable place, but we are reminded that old habits don’t always serve us well. We do whatever we can, each in their own way, to raise a voice of protest for those whose voices are being silenced.
I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat –our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.