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“Thus Conscience Does Make Cowards Of Us All” (Korach – 06/26/20)

Rabbi Neil Schuman

“Thus Conscience Does Make Cowards Of Us All”
“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” but I’m not feeling the humor. In fact, while I’m normally optimistic, I’m not feeling that sentiment either.
We have a rise in Coronavirus cases, but many influential people are insisting it’s fine not to wear a mask.
We want to eradicate racism in our country and make changes in law enforcement, and then everything just becomes an issue of partisan politics. Zenegra information
We’re already been deflated by the deaths of George Floyd and others, and then, before our very eyes, a Black man is killed for falling asleep in the drive-through at Wendy’s, and a black child can’t eat at a restaurant while wearing shorts and sneakers, but a white child can.
John Bolton writes a book that makes no one happy, and to add to our confusion, the stock market keeps rising amazingly, while more Americans are out of work at any time in our history.
What are we to do?
My grandfather loved Shakespeare and used to quote the Bard regularly. One of his favorites was the “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy from Hamlet. Buy Generic Ambien
In Hamlet’s case, his uncle killed his father, then married his mother. What should he do?
Hamlet wants to marry Ophelia, but her brother and father are against him. How should he proceed?
Hamlet’s question, “To be or not to be,” means, “be”, and face his problems, or “not be”, and just end it all with suicide.
Nowadays, I hear the same phraseology with a different question:
To wear a mask or not to wear a mask
To vote or not to vote, will it make a difference?
To protest or not to protest, will it make a difference?
To invest or stay on the side?
To come to shul, or just stay home?
Shakespeare is studied more than five hundred years after his death, for his words and ideas are still pertinent today. I see a number of the lines of this soliloquy resonating right now:
“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;”
Should we stand by and let those who pervert justice or damage the national health persist? Do we stand up, rally, protest, make our voice heard, even though we may flounder and accomplish nothing because of the bureaucracy of our own making?
“To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?”
Hamlet wants to take the existential route: Give up on life and let it play its course. Yet he’s afraid to die to for he fears of what may be in the afterlife.
This shouldn’t be a factor in our inaction for Judaism believes in a beautiful afterlife. On the contrary, Heaven is even more beautiful and grand for those who stand up for just and noble ideals.
“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”
Our conscience wants us to be strong, deliberate and effective. Our fears, disappointments, and discouragements keep us back.
Now more than ever, I feel Hamlet’s indecision. We’re in a time when it seems that no matter what we do, it’s not enough. And yet our conscience tells us we must persevere. I also believe that’s what God would tell us:
צדק צדק תרדף, “Pursue Righteousness” (Deuteronomy 16). Righteousness needs to be pursued; it will not happen on its own. May we utilize this upcoming Independence Day to appreciate this exceptional country we live in, and reaffirm our commitment to upholding America’s ideals that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
R’ Neil

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