This weekend roughly marks the midpoint between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Usually at this time I am at ease in the transition between the high of the new year and the lows of self-scrutiny and regret. But this year feels different. Rather than sliding with surrender into the amends I know I must make, I am wading in a gelatinous pool of stagnation, a kind of spiritual horse latitude.
In my 59 years, I’ve come to distinguish between the placid quality of peace and the quiet of avoidance. As a middling-to-good Jewish boy, it is my duty to paddle through the cauldron of Jello-O and stir thing up. As I do, I am unnerved by what is brought to the surface.
I have murder in my heart. Murder for cads and demons whose names I will never mention.
They tie helpless dogs to railroad tracks as punishment for not “making the cut” as fighters. They break into shelters to maim and torture fur-children of all species just for kicks. They pour acid along an innocent animal’s spine for reasons I can’t fathom.
More than likely, the above acts were committed by unconscious sociopaths, the estimated five percent of of our population devoid of a moral compass. I’m thinking that perhaps I skirt along the fringes of this group because of the unspeakable acts I’d like to commit against them.
Entertaining as this may be, I picture myself standing in Yom Kippur services next week, the arc of the covenant opened, my head bowed, my right fist beating my left chest:
Al chet shechatanu l’fanekha bif’rikat ol, v’al chet shechatanu l’fanekha bif’lilut.
[We have sinned against You by rejecting Your commandments; and we have sinned against You by perverting justice.]
While justice on behalf of the most trusting and vulnerable may at times appear sparse, there is some solace in knowing that all 50 states boast anti-cruelty legislation. Laws vary from state to state, and cover statutes from leaving an animal companion in a hot car to sacrificing him as part of a barbarous ritual.
Our best “revenge” as a society is to not just speak up when we observe heinous behavior toward animal companions, but to shout! Call authorities if you witness abuse or neglect. Keep abreast of city, county and state laws and lobby to bolster protections. Volunteer at a local shelter by playing with, walking and tending to its residents. Consider temporary fostering. Above all, adopt, don’t shop.
This blog is my “revenge.” It does not touch those who are beyond redemption, but, hopefully, it reaches enough of you with a conscience - and the batsim - to take positive, purposeful action.
Concerned that a dog in the cargo hold of Air Canada flight 85 from Tel Aviv to Toronto was in danger of freezing because of a heating malfunction, an unnamed pilot diverted the plane to Frankfurt three days ago. The move reportedly cost thousands of dollars worth of fuel and caused a 75-minute delay as passengers were transferred to another plane. In saving Simba, the french bulldog, the pilot won the hearts of many in the air and on the ground.
I don’t know what or who inspired the dear captain, but my spirit is lifted by his or her mitzvah. The pilot’s name is one I wish I could shout out loud when the service-concluding shofar blasts pierce my soul and call me to action this coming Wednesday.