In the very first verse of Vayeiztei, the Torah portion for this week, it is stated:
:וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָנָה
“And Yaakov left Beer-Sheva, and went to Ḥaran.”
Rashi, in his commentary on the first part of the verse, “And Yaakov left”, says:
ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע: לא היה צריך לכתוב אלא וילך יעקב חרנה, ולמה הזכיר יציאתו, אלא מגיד שיציאת צדיק מן המקום עושה רושם, שבזמן שהצדיק בעיר הוא הודה הוא זיוה הוא הדרה, יצא משם פנה הודה פנה זיוה פנה הדרה וכן (רות א ז) ותצא מן המקום, האמור בנעמי ורות
“And Yaakov left: Scripture had only to write: “And Yaakov went to Ḥaran.” Why did it mention his departure? But this tells [us] that the departure of a righteous man from a place makes an impression, for while the righteous man is in the city, he is its beauty, he is its splendor, he is its majesty. When he departs from there, its beauty has departed, its splendor has departed, its majesty has departed. And likewise (Ruth 1:7): “And she went forth from the place,” stated in reference to Naomi and Ruth. – [From Gen. Rabbah 68:6]“
Today, November 20th, we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is a time for us to memorialize all those who have been killed – for one reason or another – due to their gender identity. To me Rashi’s commentary reminds me that when we lose a trans* sibling from this world it becomes a little less beautiful, it loses some of its splendor, it loses some of its majesty. When a trans* person is killed these things, in part, depart from us.
In the last year alone there have been 265+ reported killings of trans* people. This is up from 162 last year. I do not like to play the numbers game when it comes to losing innocent lives as I believe each individual life is important, beautiful, majestic, and precious and I do not want these people to just become another statistic. But showing you this number is important so you that can see the magnitude of this issue.
The Torah calls on us to establish courts of justice and to bring about a world of peace. It is a book of Life and teaches us that every life is sacred, loved, and purpose-filled. Let us work to build a world where every city and town is full of the righteous, where every person can fulfill their dreams in safety and with acceptance. Let us take up the task of tikkun olam – repairing our world, so that we never again lose a trans* sibling so that we may always have beauty, splendor, and majesty upon the Earth.