A small group was discussing the many commandments in this week’s Torah portion, and a phrase seemed to jump off the page at us: “You must not remain indifferent.”
It sums up one of the key messages of the Torah, and the way most of the people with whom I spend my time choose to live. It’s why I care so deeply about the people in my congregation. It is a remarkable group of people who care about each other, about their families and their communities, about the world in which they live. They give of their time, their talent, their resources, their love.
As we enter into the High Holidays, less than three weeks away, I know that many of them will be far from their Florida homes and our congregation, attending services with children, grandchildren, and old friends. We won’t all come together until this winter when the snow-birds fly home to Florida.
Whether here or elsewhere, it is easy to get caught up in the minutia of everyday life. That’s normal. And it is risky. Because it can lead to an inward focus, to indifference.
Something odd happens at the end of the Torah portion: It tells us to remember to forget Amalek, who attacked the multitude fleeing Egypt, preying on the weak and helpless at the rear. (Deut. 25:17-19).
How can we remember to forget? Perhaps the lesson is that we must remember to fight injustice and prejudice, remember to protect those who cannot protect themselves, until that day when we have achieved the society that we long for. Only then can we forget.
In the meantime, wherever we are this High Holiday season, the Torah reminds us: While we still live in an imperfect world, we must not remain indifferent.