Ezekiel’s Clear and Piercing Point
Reading Avrum’s thoughts on this week’s torah portion, I find it hard to choose what to focus on. I feel intrigued by the invitation to think about God’s ‘color,’ especially God in shades of gray. I feel a need to agree with his open embrace to the various life-bearing options of new families. But like Avrum, who hears the voices of our daily challenges echoing in the Parasha, I too mush think of Sodom in the context of our society and of the sounds coming from the streets of Jerusalem these days.
Ezekiel, the prophet, lived in a time of turmoil. He lived to see the last days of the first temple, and then to experience its destruction, and the exile to Babylon.
There, by the rivers of Babylon, God through Ezekiel sends a clear message to Jerusalem: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and careless ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16, 49)
How clear and piercing is Ezekiel’s point: even Jerusalem can be considered a sister to Sodom. Not just a sister. Jerusalem in the eve of the destruction has become more corrupt and more damaged than its little sister Sodom.
How strong is Ezekiel’s description of this complacence, the arrogance of those who are full with bread. The silence. The calm manor of the quiet ones, so peaceful and worry-free. Both in Sodom and in its daughters, its neighbors. Not even noticing the hand of the needy, not even bending down to stroke it.
I go back and read Ezekiel again, so accurate. Did he visit us here in Jerusalem? He seems to be familiar with our everyday lives. We too recognize this fullness, this silence. The hand not held. In Jerusalem, in all her contemporary sisters.
But silence is no more. Not the silence of Sodom, broken by that cry. The cry that even God heard, the cry that made God visit the earth. And not the silence of the pride and fullness of bread.
This past summer brought the voice of the people calling to hold the hand of the needy, calling our leaders to think of a systemic change, for the people of Israel now demand Social Justice.
The midrash tells us: all those sitting and eating and drinking in the sukkah in this world, will enjoy the sukkah of Sodom in the future.
Sodom’s riches will be available for the righteous, Jerusalem will repent. Abundance will be shared.
Shira Ben Sasson Furstenberg is a grant officer at the New Israel Fund’s Jewish Pluralism pool, and a member of Hakhel – Minyan Shivyoni Baka