Mintz: Celebrating freedom for all
The holiday weekend is upon us and Americans across our homeland will be celebrating July 4 with a deep sense of gratitude. We will thank almighty God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon our country, gifting us a fruitful land that allows us to worship him freely.
That isn’t to say that everything in our history has been perfect, but as a nation, from the days since our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, we have strived every year, every decade, to do better than before and provide equal justice and opportunity for all our fellow citizens so they, too, can celebrate the American dream.
As citizens of this great country, we learn from the past, but don’t live in that past — we live in the present. We see a world that needs light, we see a garden that needs occasional weeding, we see a community that needs education, we see a country that needs healing, and we don’t see it with negative eyes, rather simply as an opportunity for growth, for progress. We wake up each morning, pick ourselves up, with deep introspection and a selfless will to grow, and we resolve to make tomorrow brighter.
On the Jewish calendar, we find ourselves amid the Three Weeks, from the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz (which corresponded to June 27) until the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av (which corresponds to July 18). It is during this time that Jewry mourns the destruction of both our holy temples in Jerusalem, and more importantly we spend time reviewing what brought about the destruction.
The Talmud teaches that the Second Temple, destroyed by the Roman legions, wasn’t destroyed due to immorality or idolatry, acts of bloodshed or faithlessness, but due to reasonless hatred. When we hate reasonlessly, even when coming up with excuses to justify the hate, it destroys the fabric of our world and chaos ensues.
The focus of these Three Weeks of mourning are spent thinking of innovative ways that seek to increase reasonless love for our fellow human beings. As we barbecue and say L’Chaim, celebrating our American freedom, let’s do the right thing and ponder new ways to ensure every beloved member of our community, every human being, each of whom is created in God’s image, is uplifted and cared for, and make our beloved Colorado a place of harmony, light and, yes, lots of love.
Rabbi Dovid Mintz directs Vail Chabad Jewish Center. He and his family live in Vail since 2006. He can be reached at info@JewishVail.com.