My reflections on the death of Freddie Gray and the situation in Baltimore, read through the lens of this week's Torah portion, have been published in The Wisdom Daily. (This piece is excerpted from a longer sermon which I'll be giving tomorrow morning at my synagogue.) Here's a taste:
There was a powerful confluence for me while studying this week's assigned Torah portion alongside news coverage about the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray...I empathize with the viewpoint that riots can be an expression of hopelessness and grief, and that we should be angrier at those responsible for Freddie's death than at those who have smashed windows in despair. I also find myself thinking of Eric Garner, who died in police custody in Staten Island, N.Y., after being placed in a chokehold and gasping, "I can't breathe." Of course I think of Michael Brown, fatally shot by police while walking down the street in Ferguson, Mo. And I find myself thinking about what it must be like to live in this country without the privileges which my skin rewards me.
It's facile, and often problematic, to claim that Torah justifies any given political position. People use scripture to justify every political stance. But I do think that this week's Torah portion can speak to us today.
"You shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger..."
Read the whole thing: The Bare Vineyards of Baltimore.