It may be surprising to some that I was once considering the rabbinate. I majored in Jewish Studies with the intention of becoming a Rabbi. I loved studying the Tanach. Anything related to ethics, morals, and textual analysis gave me all of the nerdy feels.
Throughout the years I possessed many bibles. A white, leather-bound JPS translation which carried me through high school, followed by a ridiculously large Masoretic translation that had zero practicality. When I started to seriously study biblical text in college, my professor required us to use the New American Standard Bible, which belongs to the Catholic faith. Why were Jewish Studies majors using the NASB?
- Jesus was Jewish and there is a lot of overlap and context between the two faiths. Yes, we studied Jews in the time of the New Testament…so it made sense to be able to refer to the New Testament.
- Apocrypha, baby. Those books like Judith or Maccabees which didn’t make the cut with other movements…
No matter how much my knowledge base expanded, I always would flip to the Book of Micah and underline Micah 6:8. Micah 6:8 was my biblical calling card, so to speak. I would write out the verse in journals, include it in letters to friends, and fantasize about naming my first born son Micah. (Oh, how things have change!)
Micah 6:8 reads:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Ignore the patriarchal tone, which I no longer find inspiring. But what I do still love is the simplicity of this thought: we are required to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly among others.
So now that I have walked you around the block, you may be wondering where are we going?
In these most uncertain times, we could look to any sort of sacred text which provides us with comfort and reassurance. And that is totally valid. However, I contend that it is of the utmost important to embrace justice and kindness with a humble heart.
COVID-19 is our immediate threat and beyond that is climate change, which is our ultimate threat. If we practice Micah 6:8, we may have a chance to overcome.
The kind thing right now is not to selfishly pursue our own needs, but rather follow the guidelines of social distancing. We don’t need to hoard. We don’t need to shop. And we definitely don’t need to go to the beach.
And while I am on the subject, let’s be kind to those that are experiencing emotional suffering during this pandemic. Over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders and on a good day, they may be doing their very best to cope. Add to the mix a scary virus, isolation, and economic uncertainty, it’s no wonder why so many people are struggling. Not only is anxiety triggered, but trauma may also emerge because of these circumstances.
Justice can come in the form of employers taking care of their employees. Keep employees safe. Understand their concerns. Try to offer them pay and job security. Likewise, our government will hopefully show this same treatment to business owners, helping small businesses through this nightmare.
Once we get through this crisis, we must apply these principles to climate change. It is clearly abundant that the old ways are no longer sufficient, both in preparing for pandemics and global warming. We must expand our consciousness on all levels.
My thoughts are not necessarily profound, but it brings me comfort to reflect on Micah 6:8. The uncertainty has scared me. I have felt the pain and sadness of the world. And although I am no longer deeply religious, I have been praying everyday.
I pray that we all practice kindness. I pray that you are safe. I pray for a Refuah Shleimah.