Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From the Intermediate Sabbath of Passover, 2002

Condensed translation of the previous post
In memory of those killed in terrorist attack on the Park Hotel
I planned to talk today about the relationship between the Song of Songs and the Exodus from Egypt. I read, I wrote and I erased. All of the words about the love between God and Israel that was realized in the Exodus paled against the appearance of blood, fire and pillars of smoke that attacked our fellow Jews as they sat with matza and marror before them. At night we read: “In every generation, enemies rise up to destroy us but God saves us from them.” In the morning, we discovered that we had spoken too soon.
Have we reached the time to protest against heaven? Should we sue God for abandonment of his people, in the style of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev? I think not. That is a right reserved for helpless. A sovereign state must take responsibility for its condition and seek natural solutions. On the first day of the holiday, we read in the haftara from Joshua 1, that on the day after Passover forty years after the Exodus, the people of Israel entered the Land and the manna ceased, together with the unique protection of the desert generation. Joshua had to conquer the land by natural means. Of course, we may pray for peace but should we pray also for wisdom and courage to pursue peace here and now.
Inside we remain hollow; yearning for peace, and for the tranquility and joy of the holiday. That brings us back to the Song of Songs, which brims with yearning, longing and searching. The Lover seeks the Beloved. Israel seeks God. The rain has passed but signs of peace are not seen; the turtledove sounds a lament.
The search continues.
In the Torah, too, we read about searching for God, the search of Moses, who asks to see God’s face, but is denied. He is allowed see only God’s goodness pass before him.
We, the people of Israel, are the beloved of the Song of Songs, standing with Moses  in that crack in the rock. God hides from us but we can look for His goodness. Even the most devoted Hasid who seeks good within evil can only find the remains of good, next to the evil. We must have strength to reject evil, and declare: “This is evil, God is not here.”
In today’s haftara, Ezekiel prophesies to dry bones that have lost all hope, but whose graves have opened. The graves in Israel today are closed. The bones have not dried but our hope is not lost. May we merit the wisdom and courage to make peace.

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