Passover, or – Passing Out?
It is now just two weeks before the onset of the annual Passover holiday. All over Israel, and throughout the world, Jewish men and women are doing what our ancestors have done for nearly 120 generations: they are cleaning their homes in anticipation of the Passover Seder. With eyes as sharp as hawks on the wing, they hunt down and destroy every last bit of chametz (‘leavening’) hiding within each nook and cranny.
For the duration, I am all but banished from the kitchen. I find solace in front of my keyboard, which has yet to be fumigated for any macroscopic traces of crumbs from the bread, cookies or crackers that I may or may not have consumed over the past year.
Such is the lot of the crazy Jewish people. I’ve heard it said that Orthodox Jews are often food-obsessive throughout the year. But their collective OCD morphs into acute clinical neurosis right around the time that the Hebrew month of Nissan, the month of Passover, rolls in.
I Heard the News Today – Oh, Boy…
Ahhh yes. Another day, another story. Not much mercy for the common man. Check out (or better yet, just skip over) today’s breaking news:
New York Times: North Korea threatens ‘defensive’ nuclear strike
Times of London: Cabinet Minister jailed for perverting justice
And not to be outdone – the latest news items emerging from little Israel:
Times of Israel: Stray email shows Israeli teachers’ disdain for students
Jerusalem Post: Jewish students attack Arab woman on condolence call
Something Big is Brewing
As a long-time resident and observer of the goings-on here in the Holy Land, it’s hard not to feel that something is brewing. Something large scale, larger than life.
With the cloud of locusts currently pouring in from Egypt, Esther Pollard’s pleas to President Obama to release her husband who has been rotting unjustly in an American jail for 28 years, and just about everything else happening here – the conclusion is almost unavoidable:
We – in Israel and throughout the world – are enmeshed in a great and unusual turmoil.
Who would dare deny that we are careening toward a bout of unique and unusual weather? It’s bewildering, and unsettling.
And Now – for the Good News
Yet behind it all – for me, at least – lurks a deeply entrenched intuition that SOMETHING, big and good, is awaiting us around the corner, a long-anticipated resolution that will put things in place – once and for all.
Kind of like that resounding E- major chord that John Lennon smashes down onto his piano at the end the hair-raising cacophony of the classic 1967 song “A Day in the Life” from the “Sgt. Peppers” album. (Note: those wishing for a quick-fix audio shortcut can start listening four minutes into the song and let the last minute play to the end.)
The Ubiquitous Jewish Problem
We Jews have been more often than not accused of being a source of most if not ALL of the world’s problems. The “Jewish Problem” is everywhere. We refuse to sit still. We fidget, and the world jumps.
My candidate for the root cause of this condition: the Biblical and Talmudic traditions that silently pump out the radical message that, just before the Geulah – the ‘End Times’ in born-again, fundamentalist-christian parlance – our country, and by extension, the whole world will fall victim to one massive, all-inclusive ‘balagan.’ (Balagan is a Hebrew slang-word, in its original incarnation from the Russian, originally meaning “puppet theater.” The term snuck in through the back door into Hebrew, where it now universally indicates utter pandemonium or chaos).
According to this scenario, Israel, the Jewish people and along with them, the whole world – will find themselves turned on their heads, perhaps even spitting wooden nickels.
A Sense of Hope that Won’t Go Away
Strangely enough, I experience an unsettling, even bewildering mixture of sensations in the wake of all this noise. On one hand, I feel a deep and pervasive dread somewhere between my stomach and intestines. Yet pulling hard at the other end, like some kind of empirical, Newtonian counterforce, I experience an uplifting sense of hope.
Here’s the logic: if the Prophets of the Bible and Rabbis of the Talmud were so accurate about mapping out for us the depth and breadth of the mess we find ourselves wallowing in today – how can we then ignore their OTHER words, in which they describe precisely where we will be when we emerge from that dark and harrowing tunnel?
They place before us a kind of hallucination: a utopian world society governed by justice and reason, empathy for all world citizens and love for each and every human life on the planet. Their dreamlike prose describes a word with endless opportunity for everyone, accompanied by a palpable balance felt everywhere, throughout the world economy and as well as across our world’s freshly scrubbed and sweetened seas, land masses and skies. A world where the use of weapons becomes not only unthinkable, but almost laughable.
These are the promises that each of our Prophets verbalized, after glimpsing something out of the corner of their inner eyes. Trembling from the intensity of their visions, they grabbed quill and parchment and put down their words, to us and the world, for all time.
[And now for a completely shameless, even laudable plug for my upcoming book, to be published in the late spring: “Only Good News”, a collection of the writings of the Hebrew Prophets which bring good tidings to the Nation of Israel and the world at large. Coming soon to bookstores near you. Brush up on your Hebrew, because at this point, the book is written almost exclusively in that famous and original Biblical tongue, an old/new protocol (a deliberate choice of words aimed at all the theorists of Jewish-conspiracy out there).]
A Glow on the Horizon
Exciting times, no? Can you blame me for a experiencing a tingling anticipation, a nagging optimism that, if it weren’t solidly grounded in ancient Jewish tradition, might be considered a mere flight of fancy – and just short of lunatic?
Stay tuned. Hold on. Don’t give up just yet. And keep your eyes squarely focused on that warm-and-fuzzy glow of a healing light, just now spreading across the distant horizon.