Sing Hallelujah

By Student Rabbi Stacey Robinson

 

Sing praise and

shout hallelujah

as bullets sing their siren song

and death is never far;

and sing praise

while fires rage and

children fall silent

behind barbed wire fences, and

children fall silent

with bellies distended, and

children fall silent

as their homes are devoured,

and they race against monsters and time.

Sing praise, for the monsters are winning.

 

Free the captive.

Feed the hungry.

Give shelter to those in need.

This is my song,

this praises my name –

Be kind.

Work for peace.

Hallelujah!

Hope is an action.

Pray with your feet.

Hallelujah!

Lift your eyes and see God

In the eyes of the other.

Hallelujah!

 

All the earth is holy ground.

The bush burns,

do you not see?

Open your eyes –

there are such wonders!

Open your heart –

there is such love!

Sing hallelujah!

 

This is my bounty.

This the glory.

For this we give thanks.

 

For the richness of life,

And the jagged edges that cut

and draw blood,

And the beauty

In the sound of rain

and silence,

 

We give thanks.

 

For the Creator of eternity

and time,

Who calls to us in darkness

and light,

In our hunger

And our want,

 

We give thanks.

 

For the fullness,

For the stones that bite

And the bedrock upon which we stand,

For the hands that lift us,

And the song that fills us

 

We give thanks.

 

For our breath,

For our bodies

For the grace of  healing,

And the blessing of light,

So that we can taste the sweet,

The sharp,

The weary,

Lonely,

Lovley

Holiness of this day

Sing hallelujah

And give thanks

 

A Kaleidoscope of Angels: for parashat Vayeitzei

 

By Stacey Robinson

Put the stone under your head
and rest; don’t be disturbed
by the kaleidoscope of angels
on their merry ride of
up and down,
between heaven and earth
and there and back again.

They may be lost,
those angels, or at least
Stuck, intractable in their
proscribed tracks,
their lesson a cautionary tale
in thinking heaven is up.

Let your stone,
cold and hard,
remind you that
there is no place God is not,
even in that rock,
and all those hard places
that the angels fear to tread.
God cares not for the ladders,
But stands over you,
And waits for you to notice.

Heaven is now,
not where.
This is the entrance.
This is the glory.

 

Va-neitzei, and We Left

On November 8th, we left home base as we each knew it. We left with a variety of feelings as Republicans and Democrats, just as Jacob left all that he knew in Be’er Sheva. Jacob was on the border of his future, just as we are today, fearfully or gleefully. Jacob was accompanied by angels. We are bombarded by social media and newscasts (they are, by the way distinct, if not mutually exclusive, sources of information) that agitates some and overwhelms others.

At the threshold between his past and future, Jacob fell asleep. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch wrote that the angels found Jacob, “sleeping in the very place that was meant to awaken within him a higher awareness of his mission…” As you recall, Jacob’s social reality was very complicated. It feels to me as though our social reality is at best very complicated. There is no sleeping for any of us right now. As Jim Kenney, Executive Director of Common Ground in Deerfield, Illinois writes, “The time of evolutionary crossing – and choice – has, for better and for worse, arrived. Chaotic change and vanishing certainties have produced identity crises and challenges to existing power structures. Various forms of extremism, pseudo-populism, neo-nationalism, and demagoguery are clearly emerging. And, to be sure, they will make the crossing even more turbulent.”

Rebbe Nachman reminds us that we have the spiritual task of interacting with this world as potential possibilities that make up a whole. The whole precedes and contains all possibilities. The whole is God. Today we stand at a place that requires a higher awareness of our mission. Our mission is to participate in the writing of a new American story. Like the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period, we need to anchor our new story in the old one. For 240 years, we Americans have agreed, for example, that all our countryman have the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. We all champion this story. In the telling of this our colonial story, our countryman were motivated by a myriad of blended needs, hopes and dreams.

Our new 21st century story continues to be about your family, my family and the blended breath of all American families. The blend of narrations is perhaps broader today and more faceted. This broader blend of needs, hopes and dreams brings with it greater innovation, greater strength and awareness. We live in a world where the “butterfly effect” is a harder truth than its lovely image suggests. If I only look out for myself, or my people, it will effect how the world (and indeed the earth) supports and welcomes me.

Following Jacob’s spiritual encounter bamakom, “he lifted up his feet” (Gen. 29:1). Rav Hirsch wrote, “Instead of saying ‘And he left’, it now says ‘Ya’akov lifted up his feet.’ A person is not led by his feet, the body does not lift the spirit; rather, the person lifts up his feet, the living soul in the person lifts and bears his body. With such an attitude, Ya’akov goes forth to meet his future.” So too, we go forth to meet our future, knowing that we are at an evolutionary crossing. Together, today we lift up our feet.