Jersey City

Image courtesy of Ricky Romero/Flickr.

I am looking at the image of a young face, someone who was a victim in the third American anti-semitic shooting in just over a year. He looks about the age of my children and he looks full of light.

We are taught: Every Jewish soul is a part of the same body, so if we lose one, our body is incomplete.

Another version: every Jewish soul (and please, let’s not argue about who counts today, if you want to count, I count you) is like a letter of Torah, so if we lose one soul, one letter, Torah itself — the questions and laws and narratives that we inhabit in order to live in this world – Torah itself is incomplete.

Now we are missing a greater part of our body. Now we are missing another letter of our Torah. If this continues, I fear that soon we will lose more of ourselves. I fear we will lose so much we not be able to see or walk properly. Maybe we will lose our hearing. Maybe our blood will not flow as it should.

Now we are missing a greater part of our Torah. What if we start missing so many letters that the laws for loving the stranger become illegible? What if we are missing so many letters that we can’t read the part where God tells us to go forward and cross the sea? What if we start missing one of the laws of shabbat? How will we remember when it is time to dream?

And I worry that as more souls are stolen, gone missing, we will build walls and fortresses to take the place of these irreplaceable, infinite souls. I worry as more letters are stolen, gone missing, we will create manifestos of our own to replace the holy, hard-to-pin-down, worth-learning-multiple-meanings, requiring-our-humility letters and words.

There are surely prescriptions now for advancing the fight against guns as well as thoughtful movements against anti-semitism, and we will join and act and donate. That whether or not we act is no longer an option, not any longer.

And we will cry on Shabbat, even though it is Shabbat, because that is when we get together, and that is how we manage to live in this world. And in doing so, we will keep the light of their souls with us, we will find out who they were, we will put a place holder where their cells should be in our bodies, we will put a placeholder where their letters should be in our Torah, as a reminder that now, we are forever incomplete.

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