Rabbi Michael Strassfeld: A Prophetic Reading for America

Adapted from Isaiah chapters 57—58, by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld

And a still small voice is heard: Is this the America I wanted? Where bended knee becomes a weapon to cut off breath. Say no more “our thoughts and prayers are with you”! Is that the service I desire? Is it to pay attention only to the colors of white, red, and blue? Are not all the colors of the rainbow My colors with which I painted creation? Is not all humankind My children?

This I say: Prepare, prepare the road—take away the stumbling blocks and barricades from the people’s way!
As for the downtrodden and destitute, I shall revive the spirit of the lowly, and the hearts of the crushed restore….  I shall create the breath of life.
Cry from the throat, do not relent—tell My people of their transgression.
Let them yearn for knowledge of My way.

Behold your workers you continue to oppress! You engage in strife and quarrelling. You strike with a mean fist and knee. Is this the way of righteousness?

Rather this I desire—the unlocking of the chains of wickedness, the loosening of exploitation, he freeing of all those oppressed, the breaking of the heavy yoke of the past.
Is it not the sharing of bread with those who starve, to give those without shelter a home or restoring a sense of worth to those who feel the shame of their nakedness?

Most of all it is to stop hiding from your fellow humans so as to pretend you don’t see their needs.

Then shall America’s light burst forth like the dawn of a new age, and waters of healing flourish. If you banish oppression from your midst, the menacing threats, the tainted tweets.

If you give of yourself to others, then your darkness shall be like the noonday sun. Lady Liberty’s torch will once again welcome all who yearn to breathe free. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters do not fail. You will rebuild the ancient ruins caused by failed promises. Instead the foundations of the founding fathers long dormant you will finally fix and restore.

You shall be called the repairer of bridges connecting people too long separated and segregated, you will be the restorer of the roads to carry us forward together into the future.

And let us say not amen, but rather: let us become a mighty stream bringing justice to all.