From Dayton to El Paso: Rediscovering the value of human life.

It’s hard to know what to say anymore. 253 mass shootings in 2019 alone in America and people are devastated. Just check out this Time Cover listing every city with a mass shooting this year.

America is sick, it is polarized, it is nasty, it is angry and it is deeply wounded. Some people blame angry white men. Some people blame the NRA and some blame President Trump’s race baiting rhetoric towards immigrants, although the Dayton shooter was apparently affiliated with the far Left.

One thing is certain, this self imposed mass destruction must end. And for us to achieve something real, we need to speak in words of unity, of the value for human life.

The Talmud teaches the following lesson on the precious nature of life.

Sandhedrin 37a addresses the customs of the course in the case of a capital offense trial.

“The court tells the witnesses (in order to intimidate them):

Therefore, Adam, the first man was created alone, to teach you that with regard to anyone who destroys one soul from the Jewish people, it is a if he has destroyed an entire world, as Adam was one person, from who the entire population of the world came forth. And conversely, anyone who sustains a soul from the Jewish people, it is as if he sustained an entire world.”

The verse continues:

“Another reason that Adam was created alone was to maintain peace among peoples, so that one person will not say to another: My father is greater than your father.”

This is who we are as Jews. No matter our political affiliation, our background or social status, we must speak in terms of the value for human life.

Politics, money and activism will also play a major role in shifting our stance on gun violence, but we cannot achieve solutions by screaming at those we disagree with.

I pray that the victims will not have died in vain and we can finally find a cure to this dreadful sickness.

May we take each day to remember how very precious each of our lives is.

God bless the victims.

Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Posted by Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Hazzan Asa Fradkin is the hazzan at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, MD. He is a native of Baltimore.

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