This blog is the second in a series from Rabbis Organizing Rabbis connecting the Omer to Immigration Reform. This Shavuot, we recommit ourselves to working with the modern-day strangers among us. This Shavuot, we stand with Ruth. Rabbis Organizing Rabbis is a joint project of the CCAR’s Peace & Justice Committee, the URJ’s Just Congregations, and the Religious Action Center. Learn more and join the mailing list.
This week, we recall the value of Gevurah–strength through judgement. We are taught that true strength must always be tempered by wisdom just as justice is balanced by mercy. We are given the ability, through judgement, to use our strength for good.
We live in a nation that is the most powerful in the world. America has economic, military, and political strength. Being strong, however, must not mean that we use our power with belligerence or to oppress others. Rather our strength is to be a positive force in our world. America is a beacon of hope for so many people who live in places where strength and power are misused. This country attracts those who wish to add their talents, loyalties, and creativity to add new energy to our nation.
During this first week of the Omer, we recall the strength of Boaz who protected and sheltered Ruth. He welcomed this stranger from Moab and valued her own kindness shown to Naomi. Ruth labored in the fields as a stranger, a widow, an outcast. But Boaz used his strength to provide for her and for her mother-in-law, Naomi.
We who were strangers in Egypt are taught to treat the stranger as the native. We are commanded to protect the outcast, the widow, the orphan, and the poor. We are no longer slaves in Egypt. We are not the outcasts. We are indeed fortunate to benefit from all the gifts that this strong nation bestows upon its inhabitants. Let us use our own spiritual and political powers to ensure welcome to this land for others, especially the undocumented adults and children who seek shelter here in this land of freedom. We stand with Boaz. We stand with Ruth.
Rabbi Samuel Gordon serves Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, IL.
(In case you think you might have already seen this piece, in our excitement about this great series we posted this too early last week. So here it is again, this time in the right order!)