17 November 2010
137. Exile makes us weep. And turns us Jews into an Ur Source so Reggae singers write songs about our texts. "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps. For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' " We had a willow tree in our front yard and I used to go there for comfort when young. After the folks divorced and we sold the house, I thought of that tree. It wasn't next to a river, just a small prairie ditch but I'd see frogs and rabbits and an occasional snake. I never wept but I lay down there. And now I remember that Zion. And in my own cunning I never forget. Believe me, my tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth is not my problem. I'm certain there are some who believe it should be. I remember a summer wind through my bedroom window; and ball games on the radio; and my dog asleep under the birch on a warm afternoon. But I never wanted revenge, or to "dash thy little ones against the rock." I hate how religion sometimes intrudes on a good song and ruins it.
138. Strength. Uncommon fortitude. And thanksgiving. "I will give Thee thanks with my whole heart, in the presence of the mighty will I sing praises unto Thee." On VE Day in 1945, the photographer Paul Goldman captured Jews dancing in the streets in Tel Aviv, celebrating the Allied victory over German and Italian Fascism. It's one of my favorite photographs of all time. "In the day that I called, Thou didst answer me; Thou didst encourage me in my soul with strength." Sometimes, rare as it may be, things come together. When it does: sing; dance.