Rabbi Mishael Zion | Bronfman Fellowships | Text and the City | Shemot 2013
I am not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions, whether they come in Tishrei or in January. They feel like a tokenistic, gratuitous act, to be flicked off like a dry scab a few weeks into the New Year. Yet sometimes it is the smallest shift of focus which can open the door to enormous change. Inspired by the first Parasha of the new year, Shemot, I aspire this year to give a new twist to the most mundane of acts: seeing.
|“The Mother of Moses,” Simeon Solomon 1860|
“He directed his eyes and his heart to share their distress.”
וירא בסבלתם: נתן עיניו ולבו להיות מיצר עליהם:
How does this translate into action for 2013? For our information addled generation, we must be purposeful about where we direct our sight. Since the primary way we “see” today is by consuming written and visual media, we must curate out information guided by moral vision. We must “go out” of our usual information silos, reading opinions and reports we disagree with, consuming media in a purposeful way and from a myriad of perspectives, overcoming our compassion fatigue. In the last confrontation between Israel and the Hamas, I attempted to consume media with purpose: reading and watching an increased amount of TV from “my brothers” in Israel, but also “going out” and reading about the plight of Palestinians and seeking out the perspective of Al Jazeera. I read the analysts who preached to my comfort zone (Haaretz?), as well as the pundits whom I vehemently disagree with (Arutz Sheva? When I disagree with them they are always pundits…). “Going out” does not mean not taking sides – I know who “my brothers” are – yet I feel there is an ethical imperative to constantly widen my lens of sight, in all directions.
|Woody Guthrie's New Year's resolution, 1943|