Wednesday, April 08, 2009

This feast feeds freedom

A touch of jet lag and a sore shoulder had me up in the very early morning hours, today, laying down aluminum foil on every exposed surface of the kitchen here in Jerusalem in preparation for חג המצות/hag hamatzot -- the Festival of Matzah (otherwise known as Passover). Suddenly I found tears in my eyes.

The tears were related to the music in my ears. I was listening to Billy Bragg's version of Woody Guthrie 's "All you fascists are bound to lose. " I heard such courage in Guthrie's words. It sounded to me like a prayer. A prayer for a day where hate and violence would come to an end, a prayer, in Guthrie's words for a time when there would be "people of every color marching side by side." A prayer in line with what was in my heart as I was "making a spaceship" of this kitchen to follow in the thousand's years old tradition of my people to clear their houses of all leavened products for the week-long holiday. . . . Guthrie made me think of my rabbinical school colleague, Rabbi Scott Slarskey, whose teffilin bag while we were in school had on it the words Guthrie had on his guitar -- "this machine kills fascists."

I never asked Scott what those words meant to him, but I know how powerfully it spoke to me to see it associated with a part of the Jewish religious tradition. . . . Because I really believe that it's not enough to just want a world free of the hate (of fascists and others) -- a world of peace and love and freedom. In the last 100 years, too many dreams for that have ended up leading to all sorts of unintended and tragic consequences. To stay on course for our goal, we need God. We need our devotion to God. We need a way to express it. A way that's rooted. That's ancient. That keeps us hand-in-hand with the generations that passed before.

I was trying to keep faith with those generations and their own hopes for a world of peace as I was laying my foil. I was asking God for peace. . . And for freedom.

Have a great Peasach!

[X-posted to smamitayim ]

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