It is time for us to act like Judah-time to redeem ourselves as a nation. Let us put our nation’s leaders in the place of Joseph and Pharaoh. Let us question their holding of our children as hostages to politics. The gun manufacturers, the N.R.A., members of congress, and, to some extent, even the leaders of our executive and judicial branches of government are holding our collective Benjamins as hostages. It is time for us to plead with them, as Judah pleaded with Joseph. Judah offered to take their place, and it was this completely selfless and redeeming act that finally broke Joseph, and he revealed himself to his brothers. Is that what we must do? Must we offer ourselves as hostages in place of our children so that no more will die senselessly from guns? Are we willing to do what must be done to redeem ourselves? It is too late to prevent the senseless deaths of so many, but perhaps we can prevent more deaths. Take us, then, in place of our children.
This is the point when Joseph is supposed to break down. Based on the N.R.A.’s statements today, it seems that we haven’t gotten through to them. They still refuse to recognize us as their brothers (and sisters and children.) We must keep trying, keep pleading. And if that doesn’t work, then maybe it is time for us to take firm and deliberate action, as Joseph did in dealing with the pending and continuing famine. Guns, and especially assault weapons and automatic weapons are in abundance today, so it is hard to think of them as symbolized by a famine. Yet there is an equivalence. Guns challenge our very survival in the same way that the famine challenged the survival of Egypt, Canaan, and neighboring nations.
I might suggest that if the gun advocates don’t accept the reality that they are going to have to compromise, then their worst nightmare may come true – Just as Joseph acquired all the money and land for the state, our government may wind up acquiring all the weapons. Truly the worst nightmare for staunch advocates of the second amendment – and, to be frank, a reality I would also fear. Yet it could happen, if the majority of the citizens finally get tired of pandering to the small minority that insist on no limits on gun ownership. So before we get to the point that there is no alternative but for the government to be the sole controller and owner of guns, let’s find a reasonable compromise that provides for a ban on ownership of assault weapons, that requires mandatory checks and screening on all purchases of weapons under all circumstances. A compromise that will save lives.
It has to stop. It’s not the 1790s. The guns available then are not the same as the guns available to us now. They were not capable of the same, rapid wholesale killing, and required much more deliberate effort to use and time to kill.
Others have stated this far more eloquently than I can, so I refer you to their thoughts.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President Emeritus of the URJ: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-eric-h-yoffie/gun-worship-is-blasphemy_b_2307821.html
Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver, Rabbi of Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, CT. asks us to all join in an effort to solve this problem on his Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/rabbi.praver
The time is now. Let us beat our guns into plowshares.
Other musings on parashat Vayigash:
Vayigash 5772 - Redux & Revised 5760 Teleology 101: Does G"d Play Dice With the World
Vayiggash 5771-Being Both Israels
Vayigash 5769 - He's A-Cookin'-a-Somethin'-A-Up
Vayigash 5768 - G"d By the Light of Day
Vayigash 5767-Two Sticks As One?
Vayigash 5765-One People
Vayigash 5763-Things Better Left Unsaid
Vayigash 5761/5766-Checking In
Vayigash 5762-Teleology 101: Does Gd Play Dice With the World?
Vayigash 5764-Incidental Outcomes and Alternate Histories