Take a Lamb: Shabbat HaGadol 5783

After Nashville


Yesterday I was reading the Washington Post's long article about the history of the AR-15, and the related piece about how it blows the body apart, when I saw news of the Nashville school shooting.

My heart breaks for every parent, in Nashville and anywhere, faced with the gut-wrenching task of mourning and burying a child. As a mother, I can't think of anything more excruciatingly painful. 

Will my nation ever choose our responsibility to our children over our right to weaponry? The divide between those of us who yearn for that, and those who resist it, feels nearly infinite today.

For me, the Second Amendment's right to bear arms pales in comparison to the right of a child in school or a clubgoer out dancing or a person buying groceries to continue living without being shot.

This is my view as a rabbi, as a Jew, as a parent, as a human being. A human being matters more than a weapon. What we owe to our children, to each other, far outweighs our "right" to kill one another. 

I grew up in Texas. My father (z"l) used to hunt. I have siblings and nieces who shoot skeet for fun. I am not opposed to firearms. I'm opposed to what seems to me to be idolatry -- worship of weapons.

This is not a new or original argument. "Gun worship is idolatry." "Guns are Americans' golden calf." "Have guns become an idol in the U.S.?" "The idolatry of guns in the U.S." "American's idol."

Jewish voices, too: "Gun Violence Prevention." "Gun idolatry." Or see "Jewish ethics and gun control: swords, dogs, and stumbling blocks," which notes that Judaism uplifts responsibilities over rights.

Writing this feels almost pointless. Surely I'm preaching to the proverbial choir. If you read this blog, you probably already agree with me. (And if you disagree with me, you likely won't care what I think.)

Consider this the cry of a broken heart. I know I'm not going to convince anyone; I'm just grieving out loud. My heart cries out for the Nashville dead, and for the other 128 mass shootings so far this year.

Every time there's a school shooting, it's a little bit extra-difficult to send my child off to school the next morning. I know we're probably safe here. It's still hard to let him go again, every single time. 

All I have today are these yearning words from poet Yehuda Amichai z"l (and a link to Armory of Harmony, an organization perhaps inspired by these lines) --

Don't stop after beating the swords into plowshares, don't stop! Go on beating and make musical instruments out of them.

Whoever wants to make war again will have to turn them into plowshares first.