Monday, May 17, 2010

Behold! Divrei Tefillah

Written for the 2009-2010 Drisha Artists Fellowship
© 2010 Trisha Arlin

Blessed Was•Is•Will Be, Breath of Eternity, that creates holy separation between waking and sleeping.

In Torah, God shows the future in our dreams to whomever God thinks appropriate
And then God sends wise interpreters to us so we can tell them our dreams and they will tell us the messages that God has sent us.
And, once and only when explained, the dreams come true.
Hinei! which means, Behold, that’s the word used in Torah to introduce such a dream.
Which is definitely not that thing that happens every night that you forget in the morning before you’ve brushed your teeth, but something important, something you must announce.
So here I go. I had a dream. Hinei.

II. Behold, Torah dreams.
So Joseph dreamed of wheat sheaves that bowed to him and the aging Wrestler understood and interpreted
Thus he gave his annoying son a striped coat,
So the dreams came true and the story commenced
And when Joseph saw his brothers again, they were hungry and he was a lord.
And they bowed down to him and he understood, and forgave because it was basherte, And no need to be bitter.
Thus they hugged and they ate and they cried.
So thank you, Jacob.
Because without interpretation, a prophecy is wasted.

III. Then behold, science dreams.
While we sleep our brains show us random pictures of what we had seen that day or what we can imagine, based on what our brains already knew because what else is there?
And our brain imposes order on the random and constructs a story
And we call that a dream.
Chalom is the Hebrew word for dream, which sounds like chalon, is the word for window. Possibly no relation (I must ask the rabbi) but to my English-speaking ears, this establishes connection.
So perhaps a dream is prophecy or neurology or a window to one’s psyche, I dunno.
But our therapists interpret our dreams so we’ll understand our inner motivations.
Once analyzed, a dream gives insight.
So Danke Schoen, Freud.
Because without explanation, an image is wasted

IV. Behold, Rebbe Hannina says
Human versions of God’s vast intent are as unripened fruit.
Filled with potential, perceived completely only by God.
He says that the unripened fruit of prophecy is a dream.
Which is kind of cool.
So I speculate, the unripened fruit of truth is the story.
We tell tales with beginnings middles and ends around our seder table, for instance.
Then we bite into sweet charoses and pretend it is mortar for bitter bricks
Because it fits the narrative.
So thanks, all you Jews,
Because without an audience, a maggid is wasted.

V. Behold, Moses dreams
Of a story of escape from bondage, bad guys, and a hero or two.
And after much pain and death, and a mad dash across the Sea of Reeds, there’s much rejoicing.
Quickly interrupted by hunger and miracles and rules and revelation.
And even though the rest of us
Often find ourselves in the desert, or tied up on the metaphorical railroad tracks
Pay the rent I can’t pay the rent
Not even dreaming of rescue, making bricks without straw
No aspirations, no hope, no prophecies, no future
Then comes Moshe, I’ll pay the rent
So Todah rabah, Shmot.
Because without complications, a happy ending is wasted.

VI. Behold, five old rabbis pull an all-nighter.
Reclining but not sleeping
Discussing the unripened fruit of Exodus.
Awake but always dreaming of questions asked over and over again.
Why on this night? And we children try to please them:
The grind who asks what they want him to ask and the wise-ass who won’t.
The sweet one, leaning against his mother, wants to know, why does anyone have to die?
And the littlest one at the kid’s table, stares at the drops of wine-blood on his plate and thinks, huh?
And the rabbis ask questions of each other and each one has a different answer.
But no matter how much they disagree, it always ends with the Shma.
So thanks, kids.
Because without questions, a long night is wasted.

VII. Behold, throwing dreams
Hannah invented personal prayer.
In private rebellion, she dared to speak her heart
And then fling it out to God.
And she wasn’t worried about High Priests or their approval,
Because her need was too great.
And God heard. Because God does.
Hineini, not Hinei.
So I pray and dream and listen for the presence of God in ambient sound
And hope to interpret the dream properly so that it will come true, if it should,
And be part of a much larger story.
So we can all forgive and not be bitter
And hug and eat and cry and change the world
As did our illustrious uncle, Joseph of Egypt.
So thanks, Grace Paley, who more or less said,
“Without action, hope is wasted.”

VIII. So anyway, behold behold behold!
Behold, my dream.
Sorry it took so long to get here, I wish it I’d arrived at it sooner
I really really do. But I got here as fast as I could.
So this is it, Hinei,
I dream of interpretation and analysis
Of neurons and freedom and food, of argument and doubt.
Of unripened fruit and leadership and complicated stories that get better each time you tell them.
I dream of Is and Was and Will Be
In the vast undifferentiated Ein Sof, timeless and gender free, One-ness.
I dream that we are kind to each other whenever possible.
And I dream of windows and connection and history.
I dream of the time and opportunity to study for all who wish to learn.
I dream of receiving wisdom from all who have to share.
And,Thank God,
Of a world where no books are unread
And nothing and no one is wasted.

IX. And behold, at last, my actual dream
That I had the night before the first day of classes last September:
HINEI! I am wandering the hallway and then I realize, I’m on a sort of scavenger hunt with the other students, we’re going from clue to clue.
It is very difficult but very exciting and at last, I find all the clues and I find my hidden treasure,
It is a message, written on a big piece of white oaktag, in calligraphy
One huge Hebrew letter,
The number 80, the sign of eternity and the the circle


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