Long ago, the story of a slave rebellion and escape to freedom, a happening of epic proportions, got written down in a scroll. That story of oppression and trauma and miraculous redemption also got inscribed in the psyche of the Jewish people. The ritual of the commemoration of that event, the Pesach seder, has been an effective teaching tool throughout countless generations. But the Passover seder doesn't just leave us with a story. It also instructs us as to how we are to orient ourselves as a result of that ancient experience: we are to identify with the oppressed.
There are several ways that one might adjust to trauma: numbness, rage, retribution; but our Torah constantly reminds us to follow the way of empathy, compassion and advocacy for the most vulnerable. This new illumination, "The Heart of the Stranger," serves to remind us of this orientation. The quote comes from Exodus 23:9, and is but one of many admonitions to care for the stranger, the fatherless and the widow.
Click here to purchase a print. 30% of the profits will be donated to the ACLU.
I am embarking on a series of social justice illuminations. "The Heart of the Stranger" is the second, along with "Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof." I am soliciting verses for this series, so write to me with your suggestions. If I use yours, you will get a free 8.5" square print.
Blessings, Rabbi Me'irah