04/18/2013 05:03 pm ET Updated Jun 18, 2013

While Your Neighbor Bleeds

In a stunning show of craven political calculation, the Senate has voted to not consider legislation that would expand background checks for firearm purchases and make so- called "straw" purchases a federal crime.

This most mild and common sense package of measures was defeated because those in office fear being "primaried" -- having a more radically right wing challenger unseat them in the next election. They also clearly quaked at the thought that gun lobbies would target them for replacement and finance their adversaries. In other words, they decided to jeopardize the safety of American citizens in order to keep their lucrative jobs.

How ironic that in the synagogues of America this week we read the portion of Leviticus that contains these words: "Do not stand idly by the blood of your fellow" (Leviticus 19:16). This phrase is commonly understood to mean that we are forbidden to ignore the cries and sufferings of others and must render aid to the victim at his or her moment of danger and distress.

How obtuse must these Senators be to continue to ignore not only the cries of the victims of gun violence but the indignation of the majority of American citizens? How selfishly and willfully insensitive must they be to permit criminals and those bent on mayhem easy access to weapons?

The verse from Leviticus is also traditionally interpreted to mean that it is forbidden to pursue one's own livelihood in a manner that endangers others or at the expense of another person's well being. These Senators, who quote Scripture frequently when it serves their ends, are in violation not only of the standards of common decency, but the moral imperative of the sacred Book they profess to revere.