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Now What?

11/17/2022 03:19:34 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

The final vote tabulations continue, absentee ballots are still being processed, and there will be a runoff in Georgia for one Senate seat. What does seem clear to me is that dysfunction will reign in our nation’s capital, as obstructionism will be the catch-phrase for the next two years. Despite what I have regularly preached over these past four years, that we all have so much more in common than not, and that we must work together using our shared commonalities to make life better, that is not the mantra in Washington, DC. However, it does not absolve us from reminding our elected leaders of their responsibilities to us, which is why they were elected in the first place, and not their responsibilities to their political party. Obeisance to their party has devolved us to where we are today, and it is not with pride that we look upon them and just shake our heads like Lurch in the Addam’s Family and say “ugh”. 

We are nearly two months in to the new year of 5783. It was not that long ago that we began a process of introspection, reflecting upon our deeds of the past year and identifying ways to become the best possible versions of ourselves. We then devoted the Ten Days of Penitence to seeking out those we had wronged, even those that we might have unknowingly hurt, and sought forgiveness. We fasted for twenty-five hours and sought forgiveness from our Creator for our sins as well, leaving the synagogue after the final sounding of the shofar feeling renewed. Shortly thereafter, we celebrated the joyous festival of Sukkot, culminating in dancing with the Torah on Simchat Torah. And after that, we solemnly observed both the solar calendar date of 10.27 as well as the 4th yahrtzeit on November 12. 

It would be appropriate as the nation reflects upon the outcome of the elections for us to do the same thing personally, to hit the pause button for a few moments and consider how effective our personal introspection and desire to improve has fared. Can you look in the mirror and state that you are a better version of yourself, or at least in the process of fulfilling the promise that the new upgrade offers? In what ways am I better? What habits still remain that I might swerve away from? What new things might I adopt that I have not yet seen to? What signs are there that I am making progress? 

We have the potential to be a continually upgrading model, learning from mistakes and becoming even better. That is what is means to be human, or at least what it should be. It is one of the most difficult features to incorporate into artificial intelligence, the capacity to learn from errors and improve, but yet scientists continue to make vast strides in this field. Perhaps there is a lesson here for humanity. Scientists are working to bestow upon computers the capacity to learn from their mistakes. Now if we could only impart that unto each and every human being. 

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784