Friday, August 29, 2014

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Shoftim 5774–Signifying Nothing

מַה נָּאווּ עַל הֶהָרִים רַגְלֵי מְבַשֵּׂר מַשְׁמִיעַ שָׁלוֹם מְבַשֵּׂר טוֹב מַשְׁמִיעַ יְשׁוּעָה אֹמֵר לְצִיּוֹן מָלַךְ אֱלֹהָיִךְ

How welcome upon the mountains are the footsteps of the herald, announcing happiness, heralding good fortune, announcing victory,telling Zion, "Your God is King!"

The herald is surely welcome. We all want to hear this news. Sadly, the herald has not arrived for many. For some, the herald may have arrived, the reality remains unchanged.

They are waiting for either the herald or the reality of the herald’s pronouncements in Ferguson, MO; in Syria, in the Ukraine, in Iraq, in the Central African Republic, in Liberia, in southern Sudan, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Nigeria. But wait, there’s more….

I’m hard-pressed to think of any corner of the world where there isn’t some kind of conflict, or problem, plague, famine, natural or human-made disaster.

These words, which are meant to give hope, seem to be failing me. They only seem to remind me how far away we are from this prophetic vision

“How can that be?” I can hear those who know me well asking. I am most often the Pollyanna, the cockeyed optimist, the Mary Sunshine (of both the Rick Besoyan parody musical, and the character in the musical Chicago.) Perhaps it is an after-effect of the recent Israeli-Hamas conflict.

I grew up in the era when the nuclear doomsday clock seemed to mater more to people. Sadly, from its best days in the early 90s, when the clock was actual set back to 17 minutes before midnight, as of January 2014 it was back at 5 minutes before midnight. I have always believed that we human beings would rise above our baser natures. As I grow older, it becomes harder and harder to maintain that belief in the face of reality.

The Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza have worked out yet another cease-fire. I should see this as a hopeful sign, but I’m not sure. This one seems like all the others after which a serious resolution of the issues was never reached. As they say “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” I don’t want to get into a discussion of the entire Israeli-Palestinian situation, and nothing I have written here is meant to suggest a particular belief or position on my part, just my frustration.

The Bard from Stratford-On-Avon put it his way:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I need to find a way out of this funk. Oh, there have been some splendiferous moments this past week in my new position at the Solomon Schechter Day School in West Hartford, CT and in other activities in my new community. There is joy to be found. Yet this haftarah, which should be uplifting, is just not doing it for me this year.

I lift my eyes to the mountains, from whence will come my help?  Sorry, I haven’t noticed G”d doing any heavy lifting lately. It’s up to us.

Oh, G”d, help me to once again find that spirit that enabled Mr. Shakespeare to also write:

For Thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Shabbat Shalom,

Adrian
©2014 by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this parasha:

Shoftim 5773-Hassagat G'vul Revisited Yet Again
Shoftim 5772 - Quis Custodiet Ipso Custodes
Shoftim 5771 -  Hassagat G'vul Revisited
Shoftim 5767 (Redux and Updated 5760/61) From Defective to Greatest
Shof'tim 5766-Hassagut G'vul
Shoftim 5765/5759-Whose Justice?
Shoftim 5763--Pursuit