Just like last Friday, the unrest surrounding the possible nomination of Judge Kavanaugh is keeping us riveted to the national news. The pundits are offering their predictions on what will happen when the Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination. But, as we’ve learned, predictions related to what happens in our nation’s capital are often wrong. Further, no matter how the vote goes, when it’s completed, it won’t just determine the fate of Judge Kavanaugh – it will also send complex messages about how we as a nation respond to claims of sexual abuse, how we treat those who come forward to share their pain and how we ethically and legally investigate allegations like those brought forward by Dr. Blasey Ford and others. Whether the vote leads to the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh or not, it will cause the political divide to grow only wider and in a very turbulent way. As a result, we as a nation find ourselves ending another week uncertain of what tomorrow will hold.
This week in our Jewish world, we start reading the Torah all over again, beginning with the creation story. In six days, beginning on Sunday, God creates our world. As Friday afternoon comes around, God steps back and appreciates God’s work. All is in order. All is very good. And so, God rests on the seventh day, Shabbat.
Given everything we’re going through as a country, as I reread the creation story this week, I found myself craving the neatness of God’s first week. If only our national leaders could’ve accomplished so much, so well, over the past week and left us this Friday afternoon feeling that all is in order as we prepare to enter Shabbat. But, as we know, this is not the case. And, no one expected it to be. Nonetheless, I craved the neatness of the creation story.
And then I turned the page in the Torah and God’s very neat and orderly six days got messy. In an inexplicable turn of events, after God seems to take a much needed day of rest after creating everything on earth, including us, God is back at it, creating Adam and Eve. Did something go wrong with the first humans that were created during that first neat and orderly week?
Soon after creating Adam and Eve, God learns that they were disobedient and ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. In response, God ensures that paradise comes to an abrupt end for Adam and Eve. A few more pages into the opening stories of Genesis, Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, murders his brother, Abel. And, coming next week, in response to the reprehensible behavior of humanity, God destroys the world, sparing only Noah, his family and the animals brought onto the ark. God’s first neat and orderly week becomes a distant memory.
As troubling as some of these first few biblical stories are, the fact that they follow the idyllic six days of creation sends a message we must all hear today: even God can’t quickly create something remarkable; even God experiences terrible defeats and gets caught in extremely messy situations. The entire Torah is filled with challenging stories detailing the fumbles and flaws of our ancestors. But all of these fumbles and flaws are part of building a nation, creating a system of laws and establishing the Promised Land.
While I’m not attempting to equate our politicians to any biblical characters, I think we can agree that the mess they’ve created has the potential to be of biblical proportions. This being said, biblical messes often led to much needed change, change that would eventually lead to the creation of ancient Israel.
And so, as we find ourselves coming to the close of the sixth day of the week, hours away from our day of rest, the day the Senate will be voting on Judge Kavanaugh, may we respond to whatever happens this weekend not by giving up, not by tearing down, but by committing to do everything in our power to push forward and build this country using the values, morals and ideals that we hold dear.