The worst case of gun violence in American history struck Orlando this morning. We feel angry and despondent.
Angry at the targeting of a gay nightclub, making this a hate crime; angry at the commitment to Islamic terrorism motivating the shooter; angry at the ability for such a terrorist to obtain high-powered guns.
And we feel despondent at our seeming inability to do anything to prevent such violence. Just under a year ago a man walked into an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine people studying the Bible. Have we learned anything?
As Jews, however, we are told to never give up hope. That hope was born at Mount Sinai, where we received the Torah.
Today is the holiday of Shavuot, where we celebrate that giving of the Torah. The Hebrew word Shavuot means “weeks.” But it also means “oaths.”
At Mount Sinai we took an oath to live by certain values. Paramount among those values is a love of life, as we toast “l’chayim, to life.”
Let us rededicate ourselves today to doing everything we can to save lives—the lives of those targeted by guns, the lives of those living under the threat of terrorism, and the lives of those who are hated simply for who they are.
With hope and prayers,
Rabbi Evan Moffic