So Many Questions

So Many Questions

by Rabbi Corinne Copnick

Jewish responses to specific moral issues are often framed as questions: How does one survive the world as an outsider? Can a life be surrendered for another life – or other lives? Does my body belong to me? How can we use our freedom of will to sanctify life? What are the medical ethics involved in “beginning of life” and “end of life” issues? How do we approach human aging and death? What does it mean to view life through “la’asot” [to do, to take action] spectacles? How do we understand evil? Can there really be ethics in warfare? Is there a Jewish answer as to why bad things happen to good people? Are human beings the real beneficiaries of kindness to animals?

One wonders how the Jewish people – my people — survived just trying to answer all those questions, let alone transporting themselves from country to country over the generations. They were able to do so because they had a large body of collected wisdom in the Talmud, as well as the many other texts that commented on the Hebrew Bible, as well as on the Talmud itself. Over the centuries, the commentaries continued to grow.

They were also able to survive because they had a portable homeland, “Eretz Yisrael” (the land of Israel, often referred to as “Eretz,” the land) populated by Jewish values that have survived until today. Their prayers, facing the East, towards Jerusalem, continually reflected the internalized yearning for its eternal capital. Finally, after years of persecution and striving, in the middle of the 20th century, the State of Israel was reborn. And whether or not it is endorsed by any political entity, its eternal capital will always remain Jerusalem. It is also worthwhile to remember that in Hebrew, the word for Jerusalem – “Yerushalayim” – is plural, inclusive.

©️Corinne Copnick, 2017, Los Angeles. All rights reserved.