Colors: Green Color

By the time you read this, we may well know the result of the Special Election for the City Council. But if you think there will be a respite from politics, guess again. The big election this year will be the Primary on June 22. The winner has already started running for re-election and potential opponents are already gearing up. They will start collecting signatures to get on the ballot in less than three weeks.

Every now and then, something just hits me like “a ton of bricks” (ouch!) and shakes me to the core. Well, it happened this past Shabbos. We were spending Shabbos by our daughter in Migdal HaEmek, celebrating the bris milah of our newest grandson. During the shalom zachar, a friend of theirs gave a d’var Torah and asked a simple question: “What were the first words spoken in the world?” For some reason, I couldn’t think of them. Did Adam talk to Eve? Was it the discussion between Cain and Abel? My mind went blank. And then he gave the answer. It’s in the third pasuk in the Torah: “G-d said, ‘Y’hi Or!’” Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l translates that as “There shall be light,” while the Stone Chumash translates it as “Let there be light.” In any case, whichever translation you prefer, the meaning is clear. There was darkness and Hashem wanted light.

Many of us would not consider ourselves political individuals and do not put going to the polls on our list of priorities. Nonetheless, casting your ballot gives you a voice on issues ranging from housing and education to employment and healthcare. Being involved in the voting process allows you make a real difference in the makeup and decisions within your community. Casting a vote has dire consequences for the quality of life that both you and your family experience today and in the years ahead. From riding the bus or train to raising minimum wage to getting better textbooks in school, your vote decides how these issues will play out. Casting your ballot affords you the opportunity to delegate how your hard-earned tax dollars are divvied out for necessities like medical expenses and social services that many take for granted.

When I can’t learn Daf Yomi with my regular rav, I make sure to watch and listen to Rav Eli Stefansky’s amazing Daf on YouTube. During one of his shiurim on Sukkah, Rav Eli quoted the Vilna Gaon as saying that the hardest mitzvah on Sukkos – and maybe the hardest mitzvah of the 613 – is “v’samachta b’chagecha” (to rejoice on the holiday). Think about it. There is a positive commandment to be happy for the entire holiday of Sukkos – every second of the day! That’s not easy! Now multiply that difficulty times 100 – during these very challenging and difficult days – and you have a mitzvah that might be impossible to perform.

I realize that there are a lot of problems in the world, and this may seem silly, but this has started to bother me and I need to scream about it. Note: Make believe that the next few sentences are being screamed in a loud, annoying voice… Okay, here goes: Why do several men insist on davening in the women’s section in shul during the week? Please don’t tell me it’s because of COVID, since this problem has been going on since before those days. (Can anyone remember that far back?)