The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kippur? I don't even know 'ur!

What's a Sabbatean Yom Kippur like anyway? Would you have to ritually violate anything? If you had to, how good could it be?

One of the problems with both law-addiction and militant antinomianism is co-ersion: no one likes being forced to do something, even if they also kinda do sometimes.

The shul I grew up with in Williamsburg is the longest running orthodox congregation in New York, and it started on a Yom Kippur some hundred and thirty eight years ago, in response to what people there experienced as progressive co-ersion into a less authentic expression of their religion.

The community in Williamsburg at the time was mostly business people, with tradition on the softer side of priority for the newly Americanizing settlers. Lines between denominations seemed less clear, but the straw that broke the camel's back for the people who would found Cong. Beth Jacob Ohev Shalom was the Organ that was brought in to be played on Yom Kippur. (no, not that kind of Organ! A musical piano-type thing, you perverts.) Freaked a bunch of people out, it did. They left, and started their own thing down the block, where they kept it pretty frum, yet very democratic and modernish in it's administration. It remains the one stronghold of non-chassidic, non "Chareidi" (though no-one in America uses that term) frumkeit in Williamsburg.

I was there for a little bit this Yom Kippur, but spent more time in Manhattan with a community closer to my heart and soul into the present and future.

What is the future of religious Judaism? The process of fundamentalization only goes so far before the kids find something "realer" to latch on to, before all the people locked out of the temple just go and start their own thing. Yitzchak Jordan maintained that the Charedi (what your liberal media calls "ultra-orthodox") world is about to go through some serious changes in the next ten years, as the size and diversity of it/in it spirals out of control. We're talking gay charedi couples openly raising children, very different family/romantic norms becoming possible or acceptable, like in the heyday of progressive Islam, where much greater variety of human experience was tolerated, though never openly condoned, totally accepted and understood with some warmth and humor.

I davene with a minyan of mostly trans-hassidic heretics, scoffing at the fear of Law even as the cried in devotional rapture, singing heartfully and dancing/marching rolling tripping in paroxyms of sacrilicious agony/ecstasy. The liturgy was whole, and very little was skipped, though much was interjected in a variety of mad sequitars and song tangents, mostly having to do with being acknowledged, heard, accepted or nursed by G-d.

We were all fully clothed most of the time, with a bit of pants dropping during neilah, but we were all so naked the whole time. Screaming the truths that were clear, or passionately and mockingly screaming the truths so false they had to be ridiculed to be genuinly felt.

I personally found I couldn't go into upstairs rooms where fasts were being flouted more openly, and breathed into the acceptance and resistance that I felt as it would come. I have had my religious boundaries, we all do, religious or not, have religious boundaries, of what god we tolerate and which god we smash, or at least, avoid, if we're too sociable to smash someone else's god without permission. Because what do I know what someone else needs, right? If I know something is hurting someone, then I can try to pry and butt in, if I think I know what will help, as if, right?

But in the sanctuary of the Messiah, judgment works differently. I don't experience it as stopping, just operating on a different standard.

I was scared at first, that something sacred was about to be dirtied and ridiculed, but that wasn't at all exactly quite what was going on, though some of that did go with relationship to the liturgy now and then, the hearts were pure and strangely open to expression and attention and engagement, we want to be honest what are we doing here?

I HAVE NOT made it to the level of ignoring Yom Kippurs ever, eating the anti-sacred feast of swine and swiss, though many of us had been for different periods of time, for different reasons, in different ways. I was really scared at one point, what am I doing here? and the obvious answer was "davening" in the most realest shul I can find.

BECAUSE WE DON'T usually ask the strange questions, for fear of losing the high holiness experiences in the child singing states. Going Outside and looking analytically is like performing surgery on your girlfriend: potentially life saving, utterly un-romantic even as it is appreciated, doesn't make the bounce and passion catch fire or anything, the way religion should.

It's confusing when the boundaries dissolve around you, and it's left in your hands: what is the holy that YOU are building? Together, there is an ear for the call and the response, if someone cares about their community, they will not impose their wills against what the people around can handle, and if they care about you, they will trust for as long as they can handle your direction.

Yom Kippur everyone knows, is a day like Purim, without judgement even as the judgement is in everything. I was really scared, and then comforted when the service started with the invocation, old as anything: Thank you lord, who has permitted us to pray with sinners.

As if, I say again, my clueless mantra, as if these were the sinners. Not the liars who populate your churches and synagogues looking for atonement through pious sitting and waiting for a day to end, feeling righteous about a willingness to not ask questions, but to quietly bow heads saying amens to words that are not understood, for the sake of what?

Alternately, shallow and self indulgent editing of the holiday's practices are also often experienced as lame, inauthentic. Some people certainly appreciate the lightness, their kids might not.

So what's going to be our future? The fear of the libertine is the fear of unsustainable self indulgence, ha ha ha, as if every religious community in the "civilized" world wasn't practicing THAT already!

But Yom Kippur for me is an eternity of not-judging, ironically, not exactly. There's nothing but judging of indulgences and evils done as Wrong and Bad, and a fair amount of surrendering finger pointing. I'm all bad, You're all good, and you're in charge.
The sins of the community and the sins of the individual are blurred into sameness, if you don't have one to apologize for, you have the other.

I alternately regretted all things I did do that harmed, and all the things I didn't do to stop harm. I laughed at the sins that I am (we are)actually even a little proud of, and gushed at the mystery of what to do?

God and us gets very blurred lately, and it's ironic the difference in identification of the true God with "You" and the ego with "I" as opposed to the new age dictum that the true God, the good God who's all true all all trustable is in fact, the true "I" from which it is always fitting to speak. Who knows how god wants to be understood/understanding tomorrow, or even later today? Only the passionate and honest, may they long live and be free to be.


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