The meaning is in the waiting. —R.S. Thomas
Like a silver goblet, Advent
slips round again passing through heat
and the End of Days a darkness
too searing for the lip. Smiths
engrave the old year beneath
the rim. Tradition keeps memory
gradual. The pedestal base round
as the new year full of what lies
ahead. Is it hope? Or simply
the exodus of this generation
into the flames of the one coming.
–Rose Marie Berger (for Lydia Wylie Kellermann, 2016)
Thank you to Radical Discipleship where this poem first appeared.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, provides an incisive midrash in his most recent Shalom Report, titled Bitter Waters – 3,000 Years Ago & Now; From the Sinai Wilderness to Flint of Michigan on Exodus 15:23-24. Below is his essay:
These past two weeks, an ancient and a modern tale of bitter, poisonous waters suddenly rang together as an alarm and an awakening. Right now: We have been learning about the horrifying and disgusting behavior of the government of Michigan, turning off the pipes bringing pure water from Lake Huron to the mostly Black citizens of the city of Flint and instead sending poisonous waters to Flint. (The Governor, Rick Snyder, is no Tea Party type, but a fairly typical “establishment” Republican businessman — anti-labor, anti-choice for women, anti-Syrian-refugees, and contemptuous of pleas from the Black folks of Flint to end the poisoning of their children.)
So the bitter waters came: Waters that stank and were colored brown and green, waters that caused rashes and boils to spring up on the skins of those who had to drink it. Waters infused with lead, which is well-known to permanently and irreversibly damage the brains of young children. Long long ago: The age-old Torah telling that we read this past Shabbat was the story of how ancient Israel crossed the Red Sea while Pharaoh’s power dissolved and his army drowned there. Just a few days later, according to the story, they protested because they had no water fit to drink. What connects these two events?
Continue reading “Rabbi Waskow’s Midrash on the Bitter Waters in Flint, Mich.”
Dr. Tali Loewenthal was born in Haifa and directs the Chabad Research Unit, lectures in the University College on Jewish Spirituality, and he has authored “Communicating the Infinite, the emergence of the Habad School” and many scholarly and popular articles. Here’s his reflection on Moses in the cleft of the rock, titled “At The Highest Level.” I found in it deep wisdom for Lent.
“Can sin be forgiven? Can it be erased? Can it even be transformed into good? In the book of Exodus we read about the events relating to the making of the Golden Calf. This was an unfortunate transgression in which large numbers of Jews took part, combining idolatry, immorality and murder. Wisely, the women in the community kept away and so did the Levites.
After this mass betrayal of G-d and His teachings, Moses had to plead with G-d in order to prevent the Jewish people from being destroyed. For forty days he pleaded, alone on Mount Sinai, and was finally successful. G-d would bring the Jewish people to the Promised Land, and the broken Tablets of the Law would be replaced.
The interesting thing about this revelation, is that it comes in the form of a prayer At this moment we are introduced to another aspect of Moses: the person who seeks the deepest level of contact with G-d. He asks: “Show me Your Glory.” Moses wanted to reach the closest intimation of G-dliness possible for a human being.
G-d answered that He will put Moses in the crevice of the rock and grant him a vision of something of the Divine Glory. However, not everything can be revealed, for “man cannot see Me and live.”
Then comes the promised revelation. This is one of the most remarkable moments in the life of Moses and in the entire Torah. The interesting thing about this revelation of G-d, is that it comes in the form of a prayer. G-d teaches a prayer to Moses, a prayer which we recite in the synagogue. It is called the “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy”:
Continue reading “Tali Lowenthal: ‘Can Sin Be Forgiven?’”
Rabbi Arthur Waskow interview with Interfaith “Occupy” Radio.
Discussing the Exodus as an example of a general strike, the dissolution of pharaoh’s power, the creation of “islands of decency” within the European Jewish ghettos, freedom of Soviet Jewry used Gandhian nonviolence, and the current coming together of “anti-pharaoh’s freedom values” among various faith communities.
Beautiful description of Kol Nidrei and Isaiah 58 celebrated at Occupy Camps. You can listen to it here: http://anoccupiedfaith.tumblr.com/