Friday, April 22, 2016

Plagues Are Not Cute

Plagues are not finger puppets,
Plagues are not soft and furry stuffed toys,
Plagues don't have googly eyes,
Plagues are not cute.

Plagues are not targeted attacks,
Plagues are not guerilla warfare,
Plagues do not show up in a court of law,
Plagues are not fair.

Plagues are not a bland topic for a mild discussion,
Plagues do not call for objectivity,
Plagues are not subject to ironic humor,
Plagues are not interesting.


Plagues are disaster without explanation,
Plagues are revenge without a solution,
Plagues are acts of desperation,
Plagues attack everyone,
Plagues hurt the poor more than the rich,
Plagues kill the innocent as much if not more than the guilty,
Plagues are not cute or fair or interesting.

The God I believe in does not kill to make a point,
The tribe I belong to does not celebrate these deaths,
This seder we are enjoying does not enjoy that suffering.
So I drop wine onto my plate to remember the innocent who suffered, Hebrew and Egyptian,
I drop wine onto my plate to acknowledge all the struggles for freedom and the desperate acts that often come with them,
I drop wine onto my plate so that I will not forget that

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Color of Light

For with You is the Fountain of Light
In your light we shall see the light
      -- Psalm 36:10, translation by Robert Alter

God might be like the color of light:
When you look at it without holy separation, everything is bright and blinding.
But when you have the right tool, like a prism,
or Torah,
You can separate out and enjoy most of the colors:
And the world opens up.

But there are colors our eyes cannot see
And understandings that our minds cannot grasp but we know they are there.
When you have the right tool, like a spectograph,
or meditation,
You can perceive some of the unseen colors or at least posit their existence:
And the mystical opens up.

When you have observed all the colors your eyes could see
And then learned about all the colors they could not,
Perhaps, after much time and effort,
You may realize
That it is all part of the One,
Each color separate and together, different and the same.
Flowing from the Fountain of Light,

And there you are, drinking it all in,
And you always were.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The First Two Years: A Yizkor Kavannah

I. The First Day

How?  When?
No no no.

II.  Shiva

Thank you for coming
Thank you for coming
Mmm, bagesl and lox, thank you so much.
You know you meant a lot to us.
Thank you for coming
Thank you for coming
Mmm, casserole, thank you so much.
You know you meant a lot to us.
Thank you for coming
Thank you for coming
Mmm, white fish salad, thank you so much.
It means a lot.

Yitgadal v'Yitkadash.
Thank you everyone, please go away now.
Go away.
Go away.
Thank you,

III.  Sheloshim

Everyone went away.
Especially you.
One month later
And I don't know how to be.
Stop it.

IV.  Eleven Months Later

Today I brought a bottle of Scotch to shul
And many little plastic cups.
And just before the Mourner's Kaddish
I stood up and announced the unveiling.
Eleven months since you died.
I told a funny story
And poured out a drink for anyone who wanted one.
It was nice,
We toasted your life.
But you're still dead anyway.
You're still dead.
And I think I"m a little drunk.

V.  Two Years Later

It's Yizkor on Yom Kippur
And while the rabbi reads off the names
I'm going to tell you an embarrassing secret.

Sometimes when I'm watching TV
And an older couple comes on
In one of those commercials for Social Security supplemental health insurance.
And even though the dialogue is hokey
And the situation is contrived,
They are so warm and familiar with each other,
And you know they have been together for a long time
And plan to be together for a long time to come
And I can't help it,
It reminds me of you.
I know, right?
But I can't help it,
It makes me cry.
Only a little.
After all,
It's silly,
It's only a commercial for Social Security supplemental health insurance.
Oh, the rabbi just got to you.
It's good to hear her say your name again.

We remember you, together.  


Monday, February 8, 2016

This Is Really Important

I am so tired of the nasty and mean-spirited comments,
the exaggerations and hyperbole, and
the age-ism 
from the older
and from the younger.

Respect experience.
Honor idealism.

Someone who disagrees with you 
is not stupid or evil.
Hard as it is,
make the choice for principled disagreement.

Remember the real enemy is the
climate change denying
fanatics and oligarchs
who must be held back
from the White House and all that power to really really hurt the world.

Once the choice is made, we must unify behind the candidate,
(neither of whom is perfect)
until after the election.
Don't make that unity harder than it needs to be.

Be a mensch.

This is really important.