- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 19, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
The Liberty Bell sits in Philadelphia. It was meant to symbolize the resounding call of the Declaration of Independence. These words from Leviticus, which we study this week as our Torah portion, appear on its side:
Proclaim liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants. (Lev. 25:10)
The instruction is connected to the idea of the Jubilee which was to occur every 50 years to proclaim release so that all could be returned to its owner, including people, possessions, and even land. That phrase, plucked out of its context, to adorn the bell was meant to speak of freedom, of release from servitude. The abolitionists would embrace its message with a whole heart as a call for justice.
Though many focus on the meaning of liberty or release, the last part of this sentence is the message: all the inhabitants. There is no division by economic status, geographic region, or a particular group. All inhabitants mean all who live on the land. Every soul, every person is included. It is the ultimate equalizer.
Something else we know about the Liberty Bell: It is cracked!
It can no longer ring. Its voice was silenced but ours is not. In the name of liberty, in the name of release, we are obligated not to hold on to that which is wrong, unjust, unfair, inhumane, but to call it out.
The core values of justice and compassion must ring true for every person.
The Biblical injunction may not have ever been enacted but as an ideal, it possesses great worth. We can’t wait 50 years. Proclaim liberty so that all who live on this land receive equal treatment as everyone else.
I look forward to greeting you at Qabbalat Shabbat at 6 p.m. as we celebrate our RYFTI and religious school students. Live stream HERE. Torah Study with a short service takes place on Saturday at 9 a.m. There’s lots of wonderful ways to celebrate Shabbat together. I welcome your thoughts and reflections HERE.