Colors: Green Color

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.

Now that we have celebrated Purim with its chagigos, Purim shpiels, and all the hooplahs, it’s time for a reality check and thinking about Pesach. Each year, the celebration of the holiday gets more and more expensive. Our Rabbis state that our celebration for Pesach is incomplete if we fail to provide for those in need in our community. They further teach us that we are truly G-dly in our behavior when we actively respond to the poor and vulnerable. Caring for and giving to those less fortunate is our righteous obligation, responsibility, and duty. The chiyuv (obligation) to combat poverty is meant to be an expression of our achdus (unity) as a people. The giving of charity is a fundamental part of Jewish life.

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.