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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Like some people

Somewhere there is one big succa, that everyone is in except for me, or so it feels.
Like I'm in an empty refugee camp, wondering where everyone else has gone.

I find myself endlessly trying to be effortless, avoiding recreating previous chills for fear of clinging to a past that will not re-form, even as as I am throwing tribute meats onto the altar of religious accomplishment, hoping that something will form in the fire, with a minimum of personal investment, so that I can walk away unscathed and be ready for the next real thing at any time.

Pathetic gestures are better than no gestures at all? High School taught otherwise, the virtue of not trying for attention being maybe the only effective means of drawing it. PAthetic gestures, I was once unafraid to try, and all they would ever do was scare away the prey.

I heard something good this week, about trying anyway. I heard it from the Ushwar Rebbe in Williamsburg. Sarah Imeinu, our foremother Sarah, doesn't want to have kids. It's a big secret, but it explains why they couldn't have kids.

(Hey kids! here's a secret all purpose birth control agent, guanrateed one hundred percent effective, shnarf, shnarf: Don't want to have kids. Apparently this is very effective in quieting otherwise dogged and intent sperm from their goal, or sealing otherwise penetrable eggs from being breached. It never fails, just as long as you genuinely don't want to get pregnant, which is part of the problem with this method: You might very well want to get pregnant, and just not know. Tread carefully adventurer!)

Yeah, Sarah doesn't want to have kids, why not? Because she's a prophet, and knows how things will turn out. While she's Ok with seeing an Isaac grow up, she's concerned that an Esau is inevitable. All the destruction that Rome wreaks on the whole world, all the cultures burned, all the souls demolished, she doesn't want to be responsible for any of it. Laughing helps her let go.

And so it is with all of us, there's something keeping us from doing things in fear of the destructiveness that will come out of it. And how can a righteous person ever hope to do anything? Only when the prophesy promises that the bad will prove worthwhile.

Who is willing to believe that the bad they cause will prove worthwhile? I have this recurring image of Jesus, tortured in hell every time anyone thanks him instead of G-d, screaming in agony, saying, "why me?" and then remembering, oh right: I chose this. That at least they got Torah somehow.

Vomit. vomitvomitvomit. I hold as often as possible by Frank Miller's "there are no nessesary evils" even as Succos observance can testify to the opposite in halachic practicality. I've found no one who will confirm for me any opinions that it ok to eat anything at all outside of the succa, even as most identified religious people I know in New York are willing to bend on that to various degrees. Succos is the first holiday to be dropped in exile, even as Simchas Torah is the first to be added.

The challenge of the halacha of succos, a friend claimed to me last night, is just how far you'll bother to go. The midrash of succos as the last holiday to be kept before the messiah comes testifies to this, as the nations of the world come before G-d saying:

It's not fair!
If you had given us the Torah, we would have kept it!

and god says, I did
You weren't into it.

And they rejoinder
Neither were the Jews!

To which G-d responds
what do you mean?
They kept every word and never broke anything once

Not being able to say anything to what sounds like either a total lie or a profound truth, they respond

If you had made it clear
really clear
what the torah really was
we would have kept it

and god says, oh yeah?
I'll give you one mitzva
just one
to try out
see how long you keep to it.

The nations say cool!
and god commands them to sit in a sukkah
easy enough, right?

but here's the kicker
it's really hot outside

that NOT ONE person will stay in the sukkah
Jew or Gentile

So chazal ask, what kind of test is that?
You're not supposed to stay in the sukkah if it's not fun
that's the Law!
The jews don't stay in any more than the gentiles!

So god responds yeah, you're right guys.
But at least the yidden don't kick the door on the way out
screaming "fucking sukkah!"
like some people might


I was just in Crown Heights. Such a trip!
The black and the jews walk down the same streets
but never seem to randomly interact.
It seemed to bode ill to me, and felt like it didn't want to be penetrated by either side of the divide. What's gonna be?

I made it to a random house party, non-Chabad chabad kids dancing to pop-caribbean dancehall. Not radical kids, straight and radio fed, though most did smoke grass, thank god almighty. I wondered if this kind of obvious music-to-party fusion was as common a year ago, or if it took something to penetrate the mainstream like matisyahu and sean paul before the kids could feel safe at all. I wonder what's going to be, and really hope the universal bridge gets built, even at the expense of our purity.

Which is the main priority of the Jew and Nazi alike, purity. In a world that swirls like a flushed toilet, it seems like the most evil thing in the world is to try to hold on to the pointless. Jews hold that judaism is not pointless, right, but serves very specific divine purposes.

I find myself trapped in my little sukkah in the back yard sometimes this holiday, wanting to welcome everyone, ashamed of how little I have to share re: food, drink, or drugs. Succos is according to one kabbalistic reality tunnel, the fixing of the Taiva for money, which I experience as suddenly really wanting some, so that I can spend it on building culture. I feel so small in here, even as I have in the past resented the need to create big. If we're going to let bad happen for the sake of the good we want, what's the point of feeling bad at all? Idealistic at all?

Just the ebb and flow forever, huh? A very creepy propostion to me, but I hate so much suddenly depending on money to get places quickly, throwing it at any incovinience while the world ages so fast. I hate so much stagnating in one spot, eating and then falling asleep for nothing, for nowhere. I resent so much the shallow Torah that I hear so often, concerned with maintaining the purity of the service, oblivious to the secular need, even threatened by it.

Why don't Jews put all their tzedakah money into feeding the local ghettoes? For the same reason Pharoah wants to enslave the hebrews: So that they won't join our enemies against us, like all privileged children do, once the are sick of being cared for. We as a community don't trust the good will of the strangers we might help, like caring for an injured snake with no real loyalty to you, only the resentment for what you have and what I don't. Jews once fought for civil rights, and were black nationalists wrong for wanting to be in charge of their own movements? Jews felt so hurt after their help was rejected, and it hasn't really felt safe for us as a community to give much to the Not Mine ever since.

God, please give us hearts to want the everything righteously and together, ok? Space to be alone and reflect is nice sometimes, too much with no safe connected place to give it too is not. Open up the channels of connection, and give us easy riding to, hearts to push through the walls of self and share our bounty with our I-dren, amen.


Anonymous rebecca m said...

chazak, yoseph. that was beautiful

5:51 AM

Anonymous donbonus said...

I've found no one who will confirm for me any opinions that it ok to eat anything at all outside of the succa, even as most identified religious people I know in New York are willing to bend on that to various degrees.

"Eating in the sukah on the first night of Yom Tov is an obligation. Even if one merely ate an olive's bulk of bread in the sukah he will have fulfilled his obligation.

From then on, eating in the sukah is optional. If one wishes to eat a meal he must eat the meal in the sukah. On the other hand, if he wishes he may refrain from eating a meal and eat on all seven days of Sukkos only fruit and parched grain outside the sukah."

3:54 AM

Anonymous donbonus said...

(The source for the above comment is Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 639:3.)

3:56 AM

Blogger Dindel said...


Much Love

11:23 AM

Anonymous hoodini said...

interesting you know... during sukkot it is a time to be happy, and without fail, the last three years have presented great challenges for such peace of mind, at least personally. As soon as something is a mitzvah, it seems to become harder to do, perhaps because acquiring it is internalizing it?

But i must say sitting in your sukkah was a very special peaceful experience... so spiritual and full of a love for the torah and the mitzvah... we are supposed to live in our sukkah, and i'd say that it felt just so...basking in a much truer simchas bais hashoeva than what was offered elsewhere for me...


8:49 AM

Anonymous alan scott said...

the par'oh statement was VERY insightful.

9:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cocaine and toupees.

2:38 AM


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