Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blazing Words

"You say I took the Name in vain
I don't even know the Name
but if I did
well really, what's it to ya?
There's a blaze of light in every word
it doesn't matter which you heard
the holy or the broken hallelujah"
-"Hallelujah," Leonard Cohen

I asked the women for guidance and they told me, "Rejoice in G-d for He is good."
"But what about the rest of Him?" I asked.
And they could not hear me; they were dancing and singing into the light.

And I saw His goodness, but I could not rejoice. Because, see, the flip side of good is evil, and since nothing can exist without its flip-side since nothing can be complete without its opposite, so too His goodness walks hand in hand with His evil. This has always been true; that to be Infinite, to be Complete means to include everything which has always been and always will be even a theoretical possibility; and so the existence of evil is not only unavoidable and unchangable but very very neccessary. But still I cannot rejoice because I therefore cannot see joy without pain, I cannot see hope without despair, or idealism without being hopelessly cynical. I cannot focus on that which praises only His good, because I know that to focus only on the good is missing half of the truth.

".... it doesn't matter which you heard, the holy or the broken hallelujah."

Because they are two essentially fused sides of a single expression - an expression of complete and hopeless submission to His will, in whatever form it may take. They are one and the same; the broken blazes just as brightly, and the joyful is just as bloody. I sit caught between the jubilation and the dancing, which is what I used to be, and the broken and the bloody, which I never quite became. I'm somewhere in a no-man's land between the battleground littered with corpses and the promise of paradise and eternal bliss. I cannot believe the promise and I have no place on the battle ground; yet far from being ignorant of either, I have a clear view of both. I don't know how to meld them into something sane and holy. I don't know how to fuse them. Fusing them is the point, I know, but I'm simply incapable. And once you fuse that which is ugly with that which is beautiful, what happens then? Do they mesh together and become something lumpy and brown, like when you smoosh all the different colored Play-Dos into one giant ball? Does ugliness and beauty become indistinguishable and neutral, finally in some sort of peace and equality with each other? Or does beauty take on pieces of ugliness and ugliness take on pieces of beauty, in some sort of grisly bartering agreement, so that everything is a hodgepodge, the beauty and ugliness distinctive and seperate yet living side by side ? Where do we go from there? How are we supposed to make some sort of organzied order in the world without the polarized distinctions of light and dark?

I've been having trouble praying lately.

I used to have it down pretty pat. I've memorized the things that are particularly important that I ask for when I pray; peace, health, passing my finals. But I've been realizing something about it.

For the longest time I didn't actually know that you're not supposed to make requests of G-d on Shabbat. When I first heard it, I suddenly realized how my concentration during shmoneh esray was almost entirely requests, and very little was thanks and praise. So the bits that were thanks and praise stayed in but I didn't know what else to do with my concentration. For a while I tried to just focus on the meaning of the words, but it's almost never enough to hold my attention and, sof davar, it basically takes me a lot shorter to daven on Shabbat than on any other day of the week.

I used to be able to focus just on the thanks and the praise, on the enormity of His beauty and goodness, once upon a time. But those words sound so empty to me on their own now. And the Kaddish has been haunting me endlessly, reminding me of the ultimate futilityand helplessness that is true submission to G-d. I think I need to find a new way to communicate, because I'm just not getting through like this.

This is a fantastic version of Leonard Cohen's song, although it does not include the above-quoted lyrics. Kol Isha warning; this woman's amazing.

(Yay! My first truly successful link!! I owe it all to halfnutcase.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


A word of warning: this made more sense to me the second time around. Try and read it twice. Disclaimer: This is a rant. It hasn't been written out as intellectually sound as perhaps it might have been. I honestly don't give a monkey's behind.

This may perhaps be my first successful link. But it will only take you to the blog, and the post I'm referring to is fairly old at this point, it was posted several weeks ago. it's the
"12 reasons not to live in Israel" post I'm ranting about here.

basically, it frustrated me out of my mind; perhaps it was the glib insensitivity. or was it the glib ignorance? perhaps it was just the general stupidity of mankind. in any case, I'd like to say several things about it.

let's put aside for a moment the fact that this man neither a)disproves b)argues against or c)provides a logical opposing statement for any of the reasons for living in Israel that he is attacking. forgetting all that, plus the fact that he cheerfully ignores certain very signifigant historical trends and realities, (oh, and also that all his reasoning is essentially an expression of the most crass kind of shallow American materialism); what bugs me the most is that this man clearly has no idea first of all what it means to make aliyah, and second of all, that not everyone who lives in America can afford three cars and three trips to Israel a year, bc some of them actually have principles and do things like working in chinuch. you know, for the betterment of the Jewish people and the community? the people who might actually have a good excuse not to make aliyah bc they're contributing something essential and good where they are? these are not the people he's talking about, and these are not the reasons he cites for sitting complacently in a foreign land while his brothers suffer and struggle for the sake of actually trying to live their lives according to how they think G-d wants them to.

I can't re-post the whole post, which is why I attempted to link to it, but the thing that got my goat the most was the final statement:

"And also because you couldn’t make it in the States : ^ p"

Dude, I could go home for a summer - as a girl barely out of her teens, with no degree and almost no marketable skills beyond what G-d gave me as raw talent - and make more money in a summer than certain adults in this country can make in a year. You know those people who called America a land of opportunity? You know why? Because they've got the economy to support the opportunity. You know what economists say about Israel? That the economy in this country should collapse at any minute, and that the fact that it doesn't is a daily miracle. Now it's true that I may have a harder time affording fancy cars and international vacations multiple times a year if I supported myself that way in America, but I'd be able to live. Do you know how many families here have at least one parent that has to fly back to America for work? Do you know how many come here hopeful and idealistic and have to go back to America bc they can't support their families here? I'm sorry, but I really just don't understand what this guy is thinking. It may have been tongue in cheek, but it just sounds really ignorant and out of touch with reality.

This is not going to be an argument about why all Jews SHOULD move to Israel (bc they really should) which would include, among other things, a) it's a mitzvah b)speeding up the geulah c)strengthening Israel's economy, not to mention military and international/political standing d)historical trends and realities, too complicated to go into in depth right now, but trust me, fairly important (come on, man, the people who talked like you didn't get to go out of Egypt, forget the whole galut bavel/beginning of second Temple era business) e)solidarity and many many others which will possibly inspire their own seperate post sometime very soon.


Remember how it's a mitzvah people? A MITZVAH??? An actual commandment? Like, more so than wearing knee socks or (gasp!) (dare I say it?) a kippah?
I mean, forgetting the fact that it's been the national dream, the cherished hope of all our forefathers since the exile began? (Which would be the sentimental claptrap part.)

I mean, seriously. You have your reasons for staying in the Diaspora, fine. But they should be something you can stand behind with a little more dignity than the "Because in America I can buy a new car every five years," thing. Because honestly? I don't care. And frankly, I think probably G-d doesn't either.