Liberal Rabbi on ‘Gun Violence’: Does NRA Chief’s Son Need to Die Like Pharaoh’s Firstborn?

TEL AVIV – A proper Jewish response to the San Bernardino massacre would be for the American public to “scream bloody murder” against gun violence, argued Jeffrey K. Salkin, a Reform rabbi, in the progressive-leaning Forward newspaper.

Salkin compared the obligation to “scream” over gun violence to protests made by biblical figures like Esau and Jacob, and the Israelites’ reaction to enslavement in Egypt.

He asked whether the son of the head of the National Rifle Association needs to die like the biblical Pharaoh’s firstborn offspring before the nation learns its lesson.

The Forward piece was titled, “Want a Jewish Response to San Bernardino Mass Shooting? Scream Bloody Murder.”

It seems to be hinting at gun control legislation as a solution to mass shootings, including the California terrorist attack last week.

Without defining what constitutes a mass shooting, Salkin cited figures claiming the past 336 days have seen 355 mass shootings in the U.S.

“This means, from this rabbi’s narrow liturgical point of view, that there has rarely been a Shabbat over the last few years when there haven’t been names of gun victims for us, as an extended community and as an extended family, to mourn.”

He wondered whether the “constant assault of gun violence and gun deaths” has left the country in a state of advanced numbness.

The rabbi urged a collective “screaming” out against gun violence on a biblical scale, lecturing, “I come from a tradition in which people scream, in which they wail and moan and cry out.”

Continued Salkin:

In the Torah portion two weeks ago, Esau howled when he realized that Jacob had stolen his blessing.

In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob handles the multi-colored coat that he had given his beloved son, Joseph — a coat now covered with blood. What does Jacob do? He wails. He cries. He screams.

And when the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt? They scream. They cry out loud to God. And God hears their cries and their moaning.

Salkin also pointed to the author of the Psalms, who “is not one to let his emotions go unvoiced. He cries. He screams. He moans — even as he wonders aloud whether there is anyone there to hear him.”

The rabbi complained that he is “tired of hearing politicians speaking of prayer, and of sending good thoughts and condolences to the grieving families. Prayer and good thoughts are too easy. They are cheap.”

“I want to hear screaming. I want to hear crying. I want to hear moaning,” he added.

Salkin questioned whether the country would learn its lesson if the firstborn son of the NRA chief died like the child of Pharaoh during the biblical Ten Plagues.  The final plague – the killing of the first born – prompted Pharaoh to finally release the Jews from slavery. Salkin was likely referring to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

There was a time when I asked myself: “Who will have to get killed in order for this nation to come to its senses? Whose loved one will have to die?” In the story of the Exodus, Pharaoh’s own firstborn had to die in order for him to wise up, and to free the Israelites from their slavery. Who will have to die this time? The firstborn of the head of the NRA? Will that work?

No, it will not work. Because we simply don’t care anymore. Because we are numb.

Salkin is senior rabbi of Temple Solel in Hollywood, FL.

He is also one of 1,000 rabbinic signatories to a news-making letter urging elected officials to welcome refugees into America.

As Breitbart Jerusalem reported last week, missing from recent news coverage is the fact that the organization which arranged and sponsored the letter, HIAS, specializes in refugee resettlement and last year received 65.3 percent of its annual $25 million budget from government grants.

Those grants include funds from the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Another major donor is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


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