One of the popular Bible stories that many grow up with is that of Samson and Delilah (Judges 13-16).
It tells of a circus strongman-type whose strength lies in his hair. He falls in love with Delilah, then falls for her seduction, revealing his secret to her, only for Delilah to betray him to his enemy, the Philistines.
But when you read further, there are so many sinister problems with our ‘hero’, who was utterly flawed. He clearly breaking the commandment to ‘honour one’s parents’.
Samson has a blatant disregard for animal rights, tying together 300 foxes then setting them alight to wreak wanton destruction upon the fields, vineyards and olive trees of his enemy. He is equally callous with fellow human beings: A misogynist and mass murderer who escalates a vicious cycle of revenge killings.
Few get that the Book of Judges depicts flawed leadership characters that pave the way for the Kings of Israel. So, what good do they fulfil?
Perhaps it is to empower us to say that our own People and our leaders are human. They are not all good, in fact they can be criminal and, when we recognise that, to be unafraid to call it out.
On hearing of the murder of George Floyd, my children suggested the United States had regressed half a century.
I refuted this, with reservation: that justice is now served on all who commit racial murder and the vast majority who are appalled cry out.
There is no place in civilised society for racism or any supremacist ideology. We teach our children collaboration over separatism and encourage their social activism. Yet the pandemic challenges us all.
The Samson story urges to cherish all life equally. Like Samson, supremacism is self-destructive. The question is how many they kill on the way.
Rabbi Goldstein serves Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue