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.

My daughter Nava needed to write a d’var Torah about the month of Iyar, so we put our heads together and started to think. It’s well known that, according to Jewish tradition, Iyar is commonly referred to as the month of healing, for its name is an acronym of “Ani Hashem Rof’echa” (“I am G-d your Healer” – Sh’mos 15:26) – but there had to be more than that.

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.

Many years ago, a major debate erupted in the new and young State of Israel. It was clear to all – and accepted by everyone – that a date needed to be selected to commemorate the Holocaust, but which day would that be? Unfortunately, unlike other Jewish tragedies, the horrors of the Holocaust tragically happened on all 365 days of the year. The debate went on until 1951, when a date was finally chosen: the 27th of Nisan – the anniversary of the height of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. (Note: The actual uprising started on Erev Pesach, the 14th of Nisan, but – for obvious reasons – this date was not chosen. Rather, it was 13 days later – on the 27th of Nisan, that historians recorded the greatest fighting by the Jews.) The day was then established and officially named: “Yom HaZikaron laShoah v’laG’vurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day)” – but the debate continued.

I want you to think about a concept that nobody talks about. You won’t hear your rav speak about this on Shabbos. You won’t read an article on this subject in any Jewish magazine, and you certainly won’t hear any politician speak this way. I am referring to the important aspect of fighting the Jewish enemy and, while extremely difficult and painful, how it is an integral – and necessary – part of our national life.

We are all familiar with the Kohen Gadol and the 12-stone “Choshen” (breastplate) he wore. Each of these stones represented one of the sons of our Father Yaakov, but this breastplate was much more than just an artistic design of the Tribes of Israel.  It was symbolic of unity – all the tribes together, on the chest of the High Priest – as he did his holy work in the Mishkan and then the Beis HaMikdash. When we are together – when all Jewish brothers put aside their differences and focus on the unique mission and purpose that we have been given – nothing can hold us back! And yet, one of the tribes almost didn’t make it. That’s correct – it came very close to having just 11 stones on the breastplate.