Beloved Community Writing Project, #1
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Intro: For each day leading up to Martin Luther King Junior Day, I’ll choose one text by the American Prophet Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and offer a rabbinic comment. These sacred texts are more than historic statements of a champion of Human Rights: they are a roadmap to a better society, what King called a ‘Beloved Community.’
May we be strengthened by his enduring spirit to bring our communities one step closer to his vision.
“There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by oppression. There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice. The story of Montgomery is the story of fifty thousand such Negroes who were willing to substitute tired feet for tired souls, and walk the streets of Montgomery until the walls of segregation were finally battered by the forces of justice.” (from “Justice and Freedom” in The words of Martin Luther King Jr, ed. Coretta Scott King)
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and God swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The children of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:21-22)
Splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the climax of the biblical Exodus, is typically depicted in cinema as an explosion of waters after a dramatic gesture by Moses. Truer to the text, truer to human experience, liberation is a grinding process of marching tired feet.
A classic Jewish teaching, chanted during moments in which justice and redemption feel dreadfully far in the future, affirms faith in the coming of the Messiah. “Though he may tarry, I will wait.” In contrast to this, modern religious movements, discontent abrogating joy to the World to Come and committed to changing the World That Is, require language like that of Dr. King’s.
Examples of nagging injustice abound. Will you wait for that better day to arrive? Or instead, might you find the moral courage to fan the strong eastern winds of freedom with your own tired hands, crumbling every alienating wall with a determined impatient love?
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