We, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, decry the events that took place in our nation’s capital two weeks and call for justice, truth and peace in their aftermath.
Our tradition teaches, “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every person would swallow his neighbor alive” (Pirkei Avot 3:2). Peaceful transitions of power are the foundation stone of our stable, democratic government. Without ground rules, the Mishnah instructs, violence and chaos ensue. We grieve the fragile health of our republic and urge sincere prayer and reflection from the heart.
“You shall not bear a false rumor. You shall not put your hand with the guilty to be a harmful witness. You shall not follow the many for evil . . . From a lying word, stay far away . . . .” (Exodus 23:1-7). The Torah warns that it is not enough merely to resist telling lies, but that we must distance ourselves greatly from both lies and liars. Peer pressure and public misperception are no excuse; never join the mob.
We call for an end to the rumors, lies and cynical manipulation for power and personal gain that has brought our nation to the brink of disaster, that has led to the desecration of the halls of our democratic government, and that has undermined our society’s faith in democracy. We call for reason and conscience to confront and rebuke the anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracists, racist Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups.
“Justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). We bear witness and call attention to the hypocrisy, clear as day, in the response of law enforcement. When peaceful Black protesters exercised their First Amendment rights in support of Black lives, tear gas and rubber bullets were used to remove them for a presidential photo-op. Yet, when registered hate groups and their supporters gathered for a well-advertised coup attempt, they met little resistance and violently entered our seat of government with ease. We commend those state Attorneys General, including Rhode Island’s, who have pledged to investigate and prosecute crimes committed and demand justice for the deep wound inflicted upon our society.
“May the One who makes peace in high places make peace for us and all Israel” (Siddur). “Creator of fruit of the lips, ‘Peace, peace, to the far and the near!” said the Lord, ‘and I will heal them’” (Isaiah 57:19). “And love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:18).