For what it's worth, this is what I wrote on Facebook last night:
I was disappointed when Reagan won, when Bush won, when W won. But I don't remember the same sense of sheer physical illness that I'm feeling at the prospect that Trump could win. I do hope, for the sake of the country, that Trump can rise to the occasion, that he can be transformed by the office he will fill. But don't count on it. Time to weep
It is still time to weep. And to act. But also to pray.
In this first year since my mother's death in June, I've been trying as much as possible to attend synagogue services in the morning and evening, in part to be able to recite Kaddish (which, incidentally, is not the Jewish prayer for the dead, but that's a topic for another time.) But I've also resolved not to sacrifice my health, so when I stay up late the night before, I turn my alarm off. So having both stayed up and had a restless sleep, I didn't think I would make it to services this morning. But I woke up in time and got myself to my synagogue.
The service had a bit of a feel of a shiva minyan, normally held at the home of a mourner during the first week after a loved one has died. But it was also comforting in the way that shiva services are - a collective act that both channels and transcends individual sorrow. I'm glad I went.
Three moments worth noting:
1. The silent Amidah, a set of 19 prayers/blessings that is recited individually, is one of the two peaks of the daily morning service. One of those prayers/blessings is a petition for the healing of the ill, during which one can (silently) add the names of specific relatives, friends, and even friends of friends who are ill. In addition to including two names that I have recited for a while, I spontaneously added "the United States of America." I don't know if this was halakhically appropriate, and I don't plan to make a habit of this gesture. But it seemed right at the moment.
2. At the very end of the daily morning service, before the last Kaddish, the congregation recites a psalm designated for the particular day of the week. The sequence of daily psalms leading up to the Sabbath is worth some analysis in itself. But, by sheer chance (or not!), the psalm for Wednesday, Psalm 94 (along with the first three verses of Psalm 95), begins with these words:
God of retribution, Eternal God, God of retribution appear.
Judge of the earth, give the arrogant their desserts.
How long, Eternal God, how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out arrogance, swaggering, boasting.
I have to admit that on hearing these words, and especially the part about swaggering and boasting, I laughed out loud. In fact, I cracked up. I couldn't help myself. It was my first good laugh in a while. Yes, there is a God.
I hear that our President-Elect's speech last night was not swaggering or boastful. He managed to hold it together. I actually want to believe my friends who think that his whole campaign was an act, and that he will be a more or less normal Republican President. But I'm reserving judgment. In the meantime, though, I take some comfort in other portions of the psalm we read this morning:
The Eternal God knows human schemes, how futile they are....
Are you allied with seats of wickedness, those who frame injustice by statute?....
God will repay them for their wickedness, destroy them with their own evil....
Let us greet God with praise and sign songs in joy. The Eternal God is exalted, beyond all that is worshipped.
For believers and (I hope) nonbelievers alike, these words are powerful, and might help us gain some perspective on the political crisis of the moment.
3. Speaking of perspective: I discovered after services that another long-time attendee, who had also been saying Kaddish for a parent, lost her husband a few days ago after a long illness. Political defeat, however sorrowful and anguishing, is not death. We need to remember that too.
Time to start the day.