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Unless (Ki Teitzei – 08/29/20) by Neil Galfunt

Occasionally, a member of our congregation will give the Shabbat speech.  This past Shabbat, Neil Galfunt shared with us his musings on our state of affairs.  While the disclaimer, the views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author, is appropriate, I would highly suggest reading this piece for it is indeed thought-provoking.
R’ Neil
Unless by Neil Galfunt
I normally look to the parsha for inspiration if there’s nothing else knocking around in my brain.
But this week’s parsha?
Multiple wives, disobedient sons, town elders stoning a child to death!?
So, I’m sad to report, I found the parsha in dire need of updating, not particularly inspiring, and that left me with nothing to say today. Sometimes having nothing to say is more than you need to say.
Seinfeld continues to make millions off a show which purports to have nothing to say. Although I’m doubtful this speech will leave me similarly situated.
The fact is, I may have nothing to say because my mind is tired of thinking. I am tired of this world demanding not only that I think, but that I have an opinion. I feel as if I’m forced to have an opinion on EVERYTHING.
Is deep dish pizza really pizza? Yes, it is, stop being NY snobs, it’s delicious.
Is a hot dog a sandwich? It’s not, and although you didn’t ask, allow me to add, you may not put ketchup on one.
The news is relentless and everyone is expected to have an opinion.
Should the NBA players have gone on strike?
Should we remove confederate statues?
Should schools open?
And it’s not just that I have to have an opinion, I must have it immediately and it must be unequivocal.
How should we fix race relations?
How do we address income disparity?
How do we deal with Iran?
How do we influence North Korea to denuclearize?
The opinion must be immediate, unequivocal, and of course it must be shared because surely everyone will benefit from YOUR opinion.
Do you think fracking is bad?
Do you think all of the plastic we put in the ocean is causing a global health crisis?
Do you think we do enough to protect our planet?
Anyone else remember a more seemingly innocent time when it was considered impolite to discuss religion or politics in public? That is nearly impossible since every topic seems to touch on religion and politics.
Even my beloved sports.
Watching sports was my escape from reality. I could sit back on a Friday night, put on a game, and the world’s problems weren’t my concern anymore.
But apparently, I’m not the only one who’s tired. Professional Athletes are tired of being complicit in my escape. They’re tired of allowing me to pretend that everything is fine. They won’t permit my mind to be tired any longer and they’re right. Apathy is the enemy of freedom And the ideal of American freedom demands your engagement. It always has.
To quote Andrew Shephard, my 2nd favorite on-screen president, (By the way, no one has ever understood what I want in a president more than Aaron Sorkin)
Anyway, Andrew Shephard summed up being an American this way. “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”
America is fighting now. You’ve gotta want it more. Your mind can’t be tired. The coverage and news cycles are nonstop. One crisis after another all in the middle of a pandemic.
You’ve gotta want it more. You have to care more.
So, I’m here to you to leave you with the one word that the Lorax left for me. UNLESS.
Because it’s been clear my whole life, ever since the Once-Ler explained UNLESS to me when I was a kid.
Today as I address you here
Permit me to make the word of the Lorax perfectly clear.
UNLESS people like us
care a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.
So, do I have an opinion? Is it unequivocal and in need of sharing and will everyone benefit from hearing?
Vote! Make sure everyone in your life all over the country votes. Make sure they vote early, but not often. If they don’t vote, take them to the town elders to be stoned because the vote is our best shot and if we don’t vote, nothing is ever going to get better.
It’s not.
Shabbat Shalom.

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