We’re gonna tell it again…

We're gonna tell it again…

Shalom Chaverim—

A few weeks ago Julie and I were blessed to be celebrating our daughter’s graduation from college. It was the first time in a few years that we were able to be together with all three of our kids and a good time was had by all.  Given the once-in-a-lifetime nature of the trip, we decided to take a hop, skip and a jump to NYC to continue the festivities by seeing a Broadway show together. We saw Hadestown, a brilliant and relevant spin on the myths of Hades, Persephone, Orpheus, and Eurydice.  No spoilers, but it is a tragedy.

The last song in the show captures one of the great tenets that undergird the maggidic tradition:

It’s an old song
It’s an old tale from way back when
It’s an old song
And we’re gonna sing it again and again…

It’s a sad song
It’s a sad tale, it’s a tragedy
It’s a sad song
But we sing it anyway…

Cause, here’s the thing:
To know how it ends
And still begin to sing it again
As if it might turn out this time

I learned that from a friend of mine…

With a love song
With a tale of a love that never dies
With a love song
For anyone who tries.

That’s exactly what we do: we tell the tale again and again. You see, Torah is a tragedy because it’s about humanity. And, yes, we all know that our story—the human story—is going to end tragically. We know that we are temporary denizens of this beautiful, glorious, delicious world. Certainly, we are aware of our impermanence on an individual level, and it is pretty much a given that at some point the planet itself will die and desist. But we love it anyway, we sing our song, live our lives, and tell our tales as if it might turn out this time…

This week we begin the book of Numbers/BaMidbar. In Hebrew, the title translates as “In the wilderness”, and from a literary point of view, it is the last book of the Torah—the last book that introduces new material that is. Following BaMidbar is the book of Deuteronomy/Devarim. The Greek translates as “Second telling” while the Hebrew translates as “Words”.  It’s just so evocative that we start the retelling of the story as part of the telling of the story—because we know that this life we live is a series of interconnected cycles—repeating, retelling, reviving a little more universal and eternal truth even as each turn around the wheel brings only finality and death.

And therein lies the phantasmagorical paradox!!  Each of us contains in us the tiniest little spark of that eternal energy we call God.  Each of our lives is a burning off of the klipah, the husk that hides that light, and if we live our lives full out—with integrity, and courage, and honesty—the husk is shattered and shed. And when we die our physical death, we have returned, restored, and revealed one grain of God’s gorgeous glitter.

This month begins the annual Pride celebration.  The queer community has embraced the task of breaking free of those husks, of liberating hidden light, and healing the world through it (and a fair amount of glitter, too!).  Jews know a thing of two about what it means to be marginalized, criminalized, and rejected by those who live in fear of their own inner light. And Jews have, by and large, chosen to tell our stories, tragic as they are, again and again, as a pathway to liberation.

Let us embrace the task of redemption!!  Let us emancipate ourselves and each other from the clutches of fear and oppression! Let us parade, glimmering with truth and shining oneness into the world. And let us celebrate this ill-fated thing called life with reckless abandon, unbounded hope, and faith that the story we tell and light we bear was meant to be shared.



Recommended Posts