When Israel found itself before the as of yet, un-parted Red Sea and Pharaoh’s pursuing army at their rear, they began to kvetch (complain) and geshri (despond) and veynen (cry). “What Moses?!, there weren’t enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out to the desert to die?!” In desperate response, Moses tells Israel to stand back and await God’s imminent deliverance. God, however, grows impatient with this magician’s persona projected upon God and declares to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites, Va-yi-sa-u! “Go forward!”
Let us remember, only half of our country’s population is feeling the tragic shock that I have seen expressed on my Facebook wall since early this morning. There is another whole half of the country (a little more or a little less, it doesn’t matter) that believes their prayers have been answered. For the vast majority of this half, no, I don’t believe that their prayers consist of misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism or any other of society’s constant, ever-present bacteria.
And so this is what I urge and encourage for all of you who feel lost and desolate and angry – recognize that this presidential upset is the most important sign of all that our society is suffering greatly. We are ill. I don’t at all mean to suggest that only someone who is “ill” would vote for Trump. I mean that Trump’s success is a truly disconsolate sign that half of US citizens believe that they have been left behind. And as one TV commentator put it, they have used Trump as a wrecking ball to our political establishment. Don’t forget that more Latinos and more African Americans voted for Trump than Romney. Not because these Latino and African American brothers and sisters didn’t hear Trump’s veiled and not so veiled racial and ethnic attacks. But ironically, because Trump, not Clinton, succeeded at being the post-racial and post-ethnic candidate. Those who voted for Trump heard this from Trump over everything else – “I’m an equal opportunity kochloeffel (to stay with the Yiddish theme, “pot stirrer”), who doesn’t care about tradition or etiquette or formality and I am wiling to break any and every taboo to get what I want.” Its not what we are used to but it has spoken volumes to millions and that is what we must pay attention to the most.
So, as God told Moses to tell Israel as they stood once again with an existential threat before and behind them, “Va-yi-sa-u!” “Go forward!” For this morning, the sun still rose and the world still spins. Please, don’t stay stuck in anger or fear or disillusion. It won’t do any good for anyone. But instead, if you will join me as we bravely step into the sea, an honest and transparent picture of our world before us, we will part the sea and find our way to the other side.
This Friday, November 11th, is Veterans Day, perhaps the most poignant Shabbat to fall immediately after this Election Day. More than anything else, let us remember and embrace that our country is great because we can endure this strife and still peacefully pass power from entity to entity. That is what our veterans fought for and died for. Va-yi-sa-u! Let us go forward and continue to earn the sacrifices they made.