Apr 13, 2014

Entering Pesach, Commanded to Live Free

Entering Pesach, Commanded to Live Free

(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor


Today was a terrible day. A shotgun-wielding man opened fire at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City, killing three people, including a teenager and his grandfather.  It's beyond awful. And totally in synch with so much that is wrong around us. Many of us are raging, but we know, deep down that healing's only going to happen when we, along with other faith communities and civic leaders, make a stand on behalf of a more noble society. If you are interested, I wrote the following two pieces in the immedate aftermath of today's tragedy.

Pastor Michael McBride, my brother and teacher, reached out with comfort and strength today, as did many others. I shared with them, and I share with you, my conviction that the strength of the emerging voice for sanity on our streets depends upon the volume of the love. And, thank God, love is stronger than death. It is upon us to affirm that by loving every more fiercely, cultivating joy in the face of sorrow and healing in the face of hatred.

 

Today was also a beautiful day, where in the midst of feverish preparation for Pesach, dozens of community members visited Shiva homes, caring for each other, comforting each other. In just a few hours, many of us will gather at shuls to mark with gratitude that we weren't included in the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn. How unfortunate that that message rings so resonant today.

  

But it's a mitzvah to experience joy for Passover, thank God. Joy is commanded. Were it not, sometimes I'm not sure it would happen at all. So, whether it comes spontaneously or ritually, Chag Sameach! We're alive. We've emerged from slavery. We are blessed in so many ways. 

  

So, friends, let's not lose the pain, the rage, the hurt - or the joy - that life contains. Every Jewish generation is called to see itself as emerging from Egypt, from constriction to expansiveness. Some of us had a hard time breathing today, and with the love and care of a community dedicated to furthering life, to deepening joy, we will breathe deeper and deeper with each passing day.

 

There is mourning and magic in the air. A roasted egg reminds us of the Temple's destruction, and Miriam's and Elijah's cups indicate our hope in the future, a future of peace throughout this fragile world of ours. We are, and will ever be, a People who know pain and redemption. Our journey draws from the former and demands nothing less than the latter. And so we say this year, louder than last: LeShanah HaBa'ah BiYerushalayim! Next year in Jerusalem!

 

May life and liberation come soon and in our days, to all people, everywhere. 


Amen.

 

-------
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org

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Evil Shall Have No Power, Nor Shall Death: A Chad Gadya of Rage

Evil Shall Have No Power, Nor Shall Death: A Chad Gadya of Rage
©Rabbi Menachem Creditor

One sacrificial offering,
one little kid.
Our Founders bought
with their blood.

Then came inventors
who dreamed noble dreams
and brought them
to those in power
to build a better world
our Founders bought
for their little kids
with their blood.

Then those with power
forgot to dream of anything
besides power.
They bit and burned
the inventors
turned noble dreams
into monetized weapons,
sold each other's kids' blood,
that drowned out
the power to build a better world
our Founders bought
for their little kids
with their blood.

Then the Angel of Death
came to the Holy Blessed One, saying,
"I have no need of all these souls,
sent to me faster and faster,
by your children
who dream only of power.
Quench their thirst
so that they might dream big dreams
and reclaim the nobility
of pursuing a better world."

And God wept, saying,
"My children,
you've vanquished Me,
you've vanquished Me.
Only your strength,
your hope,
your deeds,
can end the cycle of death."

And so God's children,
one by one,
answered the prayers
of both God and the Angel of Death,
and channeled their rage,
and built a new world,
birthed new inventors
to end the nightmares
and reteach us to dream,
and learn to see again
the better world
our Founders bought
for their little kids,
every one of us,
with their blood.

A Prayer in Light of the Shootings taking place right now in Jewish JCC's and Assisted Living Centers in Kansas

A Prayer in Light of the Shootings taking place right now in Jewish JCC's and Assisted Living Centers in Kansas
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Please God,
watch over every child,
every elder,
all of us.

Enough violence.
Enough!

We're just so broken with all of this.

People, this is the prayer you are called to offer right now: call the news station in your city right now. Call your leaders right now. Pray. Scream. Hug each other. Stop your hopelessness.

The time to act as a noble human family is now.

If you haven't been crying over dead children when they seem 'far away,' please realize that distance is an illusion.

Act now.
If you don't,
Pesach has no liberation to offer.

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