So the country is poised to inaugurate the next president. In my lifetime, I cannot recall a more anxious inauguration day. So many unknowns. No doubt, the next few years will be of utmost importance to Boomers and our families. As we have been writing now and posting on Jewish Sacred Aging/Facebook, there is an almost daily onslaught of articles that are trying to decode what the Trump administration will actually do to the ACA. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
What we do know is that no one really knows what the end result will be. Jewishly, we do have a pretty clear idea of what that moral high ground should be. If you scan a host of scholars it seems pretty clear that society has a moral obligation to make sure that people are taken care of and that those who lack adequate health care need to be supported. Values such as “tzedakah” and the saving of life (“p’kuach nefesh”) are prominent in discussions. What many scholars do agree on is that there is no “one” magic formula, and that there seems to be agreement from tradition, that as long as people are taken care of, the way to do that is open.
Again, for us, it becomes a matter of choices. And with that, we arrive again, at a fundamental Jewish point of view. It is what and how we choose that determines the type of society and people we become. That sentiment can be seen in the Torah portion for this weekend, Jan. 20/21. It is the opening portion in Exodus and in it Moses is “called” by God to go to Pharoah. When he asks what name shall the voice from the burning bush be known by, he is given that vague but telling answer “ehyeh asher ehyeh”. This is often untranslated in many modern translations. It carries with the sense of I , God, will be what you choose me to be.
In his latest book, “Thank You For Being Late”, Tom Friedman writes of a discussion he had with a rabbi friend of his regarding the role of God in cyberspace. The answer that Friedman writes about speaks to our world. “we make God present by our own choices and our own decisions”. This very classic and contemporary interpretation is a good measuring stick for us now. We will be faced with a whole host of new choices that will directly impact each of us our families. Society has a responsibility to make choices that benefit the greater good and the greater number. Our tradition holds to that concept. How we, as individuals and communities choose to deal with the choices that we will confront will go a long way in determining the kind of world in which we shall live and what we will leave to our children and grandchildren.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.