I think I hit a nerve… So, I want to invite us to talk about it.
Two days ago at our Yom Kippur morning service, I offered a d’var Torah on that morning’s Torah portion, Nitzavim. In that Torah portion we are called upon, just as we are throughout Yom Kippur, to weigh carefully the balance between life and death, and we are called upon out of the tradition to “choose life.” I offered that we–as Jews–are a life-affirming people. I connected that idea to the current question we are facing in our Commonwealth, a ballot initiative we on which will be voting in November, known as Question 2: Prescribing Medication to End Life.
I am afraid that from this we each walked away with different conclusions about what I was trying to say, when in reality it was not a conclusion I was seeking, but a conversation. We are a community that comes together from so many backgrounds and varied experiences. Torah comes from those experiences, and it comes from our texts as well. It was my intent to invite us to a conversation on this particular question, and invite us to each consider the Jewish perspective on Question 2. In hindsight, a three-minute d’var Torah in the middle of Yom Kippur was a challenging venue to ask for a conversation about such a difficult topic. How can it really be a conversation when the communication in that forum is only one-way?
So, let’s talk about this. Join me and others from Temple Shalom on October 25, 2012 from 7:30-9:00 PM to take part in this important study session. We will have the opportunity to study the Jewish texts and tradition that involve themselves with Question 2. No matter how we choose to vote on Question 2, let us also involve Torah in our decision making process.
Rabbi Gurvis and I were both signers on a letter inviting our reform Jewish community weigh our Jewish values into our decision. To quote our letter, “Jewish tradition gives guidance, not absolutes, regarding end-of-life decisions. We affirm that individuals may interpret Jewish teachings in a variety of ways in a number of different circumstances, and that every circumstance brings different considerations. Individuals may interpret Jewish teachings in a variety of ways in a number of different circumstances, and that every circumstance brings different considerations.”
As each of us weighs this issue, trying to figure out how to cast our vote, there are many aspects and issues to take into consideration. When we sit down together, let’s study the various perspectives out of our tradition, and have honest and faithful conversation about this critical issue.