Trauma Necessarily Precedes Redemption
As our story goes, God sent us to Egypt in order to be enslaved, in order to learn how cruel humanity could be, in order to relive slavery year after year. We begin in the shame of slavery so that no matter how privileged and blessed we become, we always identify with the oppressed and downtrodden.
Our slavery and oppression, our trauma, lasted many years in Egypt. In an instant, God came and wrought harsh plagues upon Egypt. Our trauma was turned on our oppressors in concentrated form.
Their trauma preceded our redemption.
But perhaps, Egypt was in a way redeemed along with us. The masters of slaves are also bound up in the economic trap that leads to collective moral decline.
During this trauma of COVID-19, I am praying for redemption to follow. The plague of loneliness was around for a long time before social distancing. Civic engagement was declining and political polarization increasing. We collectively didn’t do enough for the most vulnerable among us.
May this trauma precede our redemption! May we engage with one another with open hearts, healing from this self-imposed distancing to save the lives of the most vulnerable. May we recognize that leadership is about so much more than political party, but about discernment and protecting all life. May we finally recognize that this entire world is bound up with one another, and that your trauma is my trauma, and my trauma is yours. May we all be redeemed!
Rabbi Ari Kaiman is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, and proud partner with Emily raising four independent children.