There is an interesting line which follows Hillel’s maxim, " In a place where there are no mensches, strive to be a mensch.” The narrator continues, “Moreover, Hillel saw a skull floating on the face of the water. He said to it: because you drowned others, they drowned you. And in the end, they that drowned you will be drowned.” Instead of a lesson on Divine Justice, Hillel’s teaching is that of after wave of enmity and hate. In fact, the word used for skull here, gulgolet, holds in it the word for wave, gal.
The celebration of Divine revelation for Muslims - a time of intense prayer and fasting - begins this Saturday evening for many. I hope and pray that religious introspection will drive all who consider themselves religious away from violence and hate.
I know that some like to read our tradition as excusing violence, but in a world of terror and fear the best remedy for violence is not revenge or hate, but hope.
In a few weeks, we will break the middle matzah, making a statement about the brokenness of our world. The seder doesn’t end there, but on the edge of a vision of an ideal Jerusalem. We mourn those who have lost their lives this week - both in Ukraine, in Israel, and around the world. And we pray that through creating a more interconnected world, we can find hands lifting us above the waves, towards a higher vision of ourselves and our world.