Jul 16, 2018
For Tisha Be'av: Our Cherished Litany of Loss
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
(God, Your name burns my mouth.)
heart-pulsing sacred stones,
center of the universe,
lion’s share of all the beauty that could be…
millions clamor for Your love…
…You, O Jerusalem
Eternal City, why do You sit alone?
I miss You so very much.
I miss You in Your absence,
long for You because You are not here,
because I am not there, with You.
That is about me,
not about you.
I mourn for myself when I mourn for You.
I walked Your streets,
wept at your renewed splendor and excessive spenders,
cried over the ruins and the ruined people who adorn You.
Stones without end absorb us all,
joyful shouts and fallen souls,
estranged brothers and sisters,
inches away from each other’s hearts.
Hidden are the Divine ledgers of sin,
but lists upon lists of right and wrong are still kept
(those ancient stones have witnessed it all):
smothered sigh and fierce anger,
ignited faith and craven hunger,
brokenness artistry ecstasy and light
build burn burned dance
eat eaten …eaten
You poor, aching city,
You spread Your worn hands for help,
but there are no comforters
who truly listen.
You sitting alone under all of us
is all of us sitting alone
under and on-top of each other.
our cherished litany of loss.
You call to all Your lovers,
but we, one of your beloved lovers,
hear only our own name.
But today’s strange gift
longing for what is already restored…
Might we finally remember
to cease pretending we own
Your Infinite beauty,
that Your ruin is our own making?
Haven’t we mourned enough to learn
that we belong to You,
not the other way ‘round?
Turn us that we might return,
for we have forgotten
(You burn me)
Jul 4, 2018
On Independence: Freedom For
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
"We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty." - G.K Chesterton
If I am to emancipate myself, we must emancipate each other. But, if I am to emancipate anyone, I must see each and every other anew, be(come) open to the possibility that someone besides me is in pain. And, if I am to be(come) open to the possibility of the pain of another, I must acknowledge my own.
Today, what is independence? We should desire no rockets' red glare, no gleaming empire. We should desire no borders that keep out (and cage) asylum seekers, nor leaders who despise the free press. Are the rights to threaten and discriminate worthy of the sacrifice of the men and women who defend us?
And what of the flag, colors of America's freedom. For whom does that banner yet wave? For three fifths of some of us? Not for those who kneel in challenge to enduring American inequality? The answer is far from clear, two hundred and forty-two years into this grand, imperfect human experiment.
Is this about money? The founders framed freedom in lofty terms of rights and privileges, of life and liberty, but activists threw tea into harbors over taxes. Perhaps, in today's America, finances still define freedom, as our highest court in the land recently declared that corporations are people, as our our elected president values wealth over kindness.
But. The revolution has not ended. The freedom we cherish must not remain freedom from, but must evolve into an ever-deepening freedom for. That evolution feels dreadfully far these days, when measured in tweets. So we dare not measure our independence that way.
To be the land of the free is to find common cause with those in need. We truly are all in the same boat upon a stormy sea. Only the resultant blessing of brave and tragic loyalty to each other will be what makes us worthy of our nation's power.
#4thofjuly #freedom #revolution
Jun 26, 2018
For America, on an Awful Day for Democracy
©Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Yes, power can be exercised legally, and still be dead wrong, immoral even. We've always known that. Hence: checks, balances, separation of powers. The Framers knew the excesses of overly centralized power. Their judicial descendants just upheld the letter of the law while damaging its spirit.
Remember: Slavery was legal. Protecting runaway slaves was illegal. (Hitler was elected. Protecting Jews was illegal.) Laws answer to more than one historical moment, and we dare not descend placidly into the chaos of broken glass and human degradation. That's how the world ends.
Civility? When the Supreme Court's nomination process is (was) successful held political hostage, the lines separating powers are crossed, threatened, perhaps erased. How to remain civil when fundamental shifts in democracy are taking root and violations of human rights (reproductive justice, immigrant detentions, to name two) are encoded in law, what place does civility claim?
We do not resign ourselves, nor will we be polite. Dissent is something we demonstrate with our bodies. Our democracy is at stake. Nothing less. What can you do? You tell me. Show us your bravery. Get louder. Give. Love. Act. Vote. Do more.
Friends, this moment is not our last, not our last. But, Oh, the healing ahead... Please, let us commit to health and hope beyond this very bad day for America. Onward. The work begins again, for tomorrow's sake.
Jun 21, 2018
Newly Huddled Tender Masses: A Prayer for Children
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Dear God, Protector of Children,
Guardian of All:
We haven't the words.
We are worse than witnesses.
We are complicit in the abuse of children.
We sin this very moment.
The horror of children torn from parents sends shockwaves through our very souls, so we turn away, remembering when children were taken to "baths," never to see their parents again. Never. Again.
So, Holy One, what could we possibly show You to be worthy of the comfort we seek? Nothing. There is little we can show You today. We show up with tears and signs, protest songs and prayers. While our children sleep in cages. Our children. Our cages.
God, the pain and sadness You must be feeling, as Your image is locked up and abused, as Your children are torn from their children, as cruelty inhabits the seat of American power. What rage You must feel at our wanton sinning. Our country is actively sinning, quickly distracted by callous clothing and damned by a short attention span.
It would be easy, God, to blame one person in one office for this evil. But we know better. We've witnessed entire societies stand idly by the misuse of legal systems to oppress others. We've seen refugees damned to death by quotas and rules.
It would be easy, God, to give up. Scattershot hatred is in the air. Where to turn. How to help. And, O God, we know there is little chance these poor children, newly huddled tender masses, will be reunited with their parents, little chance these terrorized parents will hold their children again.
God, what would You have us do now?
Perhaps there is hope. Perhaps. If we would but cry Your Tears, burn with Your Rage, act with Your Tender Mercy, and vote with an eye toward Eternity.
Please God, protect us from numbness.
Keep our children's pain present in our hearts.
Encode our next deeds with Your Love.
There will come a better day. If.
Jun 8, 2018
The Doctor's Torah: A Poem
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
thank you, Steven Moffat. thank you, Peter Capaldi.
I'm not trying to win.
I'm not doing this because I want to beat someone,
or because I hate someone,
or because I want to blame someone,
not because it's fun.
God knows it's not because it's easy.
It's not even because it works because it hardly ever does.
I do what I do because it's right.
And above all, it's kind.
And it's always sad.
But everything begins again, too.
And that's always happy.
Every story ever told really happened.
#drwho #justkind #thankyoudoctor
Jun 2, 2018
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