The spark that glitters under the clutter

The spark that glitters under the clutter

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim,

This week’s Torah portion, VaYeshev (Genesis 37:1 – 40:23) introduces us to the Torah’s most famous dreamer, Joseph. His dreams portend greatness, disaster, salvation, trouble, and redemption. It is heartening (though a bit unsettling) that Jewish scripture—our canonized Holy Writ, our tome from on high—places such faith in dreams, that part of our consciousness over which we have no control. It is a radical tradition, indeed, that celebrates a changeling like Joseph: an amalgam of cultural, spiritual, and political influences…and a dreamer. In the watery state of slumber, Joseph sees what is yet-to-be seen. Without judgment or malice, ambition or revenge, Joseph’s dreams guide and shape his life, the lives of his family, those he encounters on his journey, and, I dare say, even us. Dreamers are important and valued figures in Jewish spiritual life. They see the spark that glimmers under the clutter and they speak of it to inspire and encourage us to look more deeply for the light all around us.

A few days ago I was (uncharacteristically) tidying up my computer desktop when I found myself knee-deep in the digital detritus which has accumulated over the past several years. Letters of recommendation, screen shots of Hebrew texts, a rendering of my dream office set up, receipts, a few kind words from far flung friends, directions for trips long ago taken and totally forgotten. It was a little like time travel, my memory jogged by re-entering conversations that were broken off, discovering moments that were once pressing and now gone. I sat there awash in untethered, drifting, cloud-like emotions.

Before I could confidently toss them from my desktop into the trash, I had to open several cryptically named files. Most were expendable, easily disposed; a few needed to be redirected to a working folder. Then there was this one titled HanIburimsameyach2013.docx.  I thought, “What on earth is this?” having absolutely no recollection where it came from. I clicked on it, and like rubbing Aladdin’s lamp, out popped a beloved spirit:


Chag Urim Sameyach: Hanukkah blessing
Ibrahim Baba Dec 2013

In this season of the play of darkness and light,
Of death and re-birth,
Of the many and of the One,
May we be blessed to be the People of Light, those who carry within us and body forth in the world
Light upon LIGHT!

In these times of brokenness, alienation, fear of each other, fear of fear
May we be blessed to find our inner tzaddik of all genders,
May we be blessed to go to the places where we are called to release and raise Divine sparks;
May we liberate those sparks of Light wherever we go,
Especially amongst those and in those places that are the most forgotten and ignored.
May Daylight break in the middle of the Night
And turn into Day a Night which is still there
But which becomes a Night of Light:
Light upon LIGHT!

May we as People of the Wisdom of the Heart
Be blessed to draw near, like our many holy ancestors, to the
Brilliant luminosity in darkness and the brilliant darkness in luminosity
May we, like the lights of Hanukkah which shine towards the outside,
Be blessed to have inside become outside
And outside become inside,
Both dwelling and indwelling radiantly together.

May we then be blessed to go together into the world
As bold tikkun olamologists,
Healing the world,
Transforming the world
As we transform ourselves:
Light upon LIGHT!

May we create a world where beings of all species go from strength to strength in blessed harmony
With Light before us and behind us,
Above us and beneath us
On our left and on our right
Within us and outside of us:

Light upon LIGHT!

Ibrahim, like Joseph, was a queer, dynamic, endlessly curious, and hopeful person; they were both consummate dreamers. Ibrahim allowed himself to be exactly who he needed to be as his life unfolded; he both honored and refused convention by sifting and studying, mixing and matching, combining and contrasting myriad cultures, customs, and concepts. I am grateful that his much needed and timely blessing emerged from the chaos of my desktop like a long-lost, unopened letter. As Channukah approaches, let us brush off any layer of dust that keeps our light from shining fully; as we head into a very uncertain Shabbat, may we be inspired to unabashedly release our own beams of light, peace, and love into the world.



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