Genesis 18:1 – 22:24
There is so much anger in the world. Frank Rich in a recent New York Times’ Op-Ed, “The Rage Won’t End On Election Day” details the rage that seems to explode everywhere and is being drummed up by news figures, politicians and others. The economy and unemployment coupled with a sense that America’s face is really changing has made waves for some in this country. Tidal waves of change. And some people can’t deal with such rapid change. It is hard.
One aspect of this tidal wave of change has been the growing Muslim presence in America. Islam is one of the world’s fastest growing religions. Coupled with the way certain extremists have taken Islam and used their own anger and hatred to pervert one of the world’s great religions has made Islam and Muslims targets of rage and anger in America. The pain that is collectively still felt by the atrocities of 9/11 perpetrated by terrorists who used Islam is part of that rage. Couple this with the violence and destruction and loss of lives that comes with the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars where Americans are surrounded by hostile people-mostly Muslims. There is a mix of anger, rage and Islamophobia that is frightening.
If we learn one thing from this week’s Torah portion Vayera, we learn that hatred of the other brings destruction. In this week’s portion we read the story of Sodom and Gemorrah. In chapter 18, Sodom and Gemorrah are destroyed not for the sin of homosexuality which is a complete and utter misreading of the text but for the sin of hating the newcomer, for the sin of suspicion of the other, and for the sin of being inhospitable.
The angels that come to Lot are seen as outsiders who have come to overthrow the town. The townspeople want to have at them and humiliate them because they are different. The crowd’s frenzy is a frenzy of hatred and fear.
And we ought to learn from this. We ought to take the time to find out who are neighbors are. We ought to take the time to learn about others. Rather than imagine something vile.
So too with our Muslim neighbors. The time has come to learn rather than think we know.
There is too much anger in the world. Our Torah is trying to help learn the lesson of rage directed at others. Let us learn before it is too late.