Friday, November 30, 2018

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Vayeishev 5779—Updating Amos

Another political one, but how could it not be? I present to you this modern re-writing of the haftarah for parashat Vayeishev, from Amos 2:6-3:8.

6. Thus said the LORD: For three transgressions of America, For four, I will not revoke it: Because they have sold for Bitcoin Those whose cause was just, And the needy for a pair of Air Jordans.

7 [Ah,] you who trample the heads of the poor Into the dust of the ground, And make the humble walk a twisted course! Father and son go to the same girl, and then bribe her to stay silent, And thereby profane My holy name.

8 They recline by every golf course on profits from tax breaks for the wealthy, And drink craft beers bought with wage increases they withheld from their workers.

9 Yet I Destroyed the ungodly Russian Communists before them, Whose stature was like the wall separating Berlin, And allowed their satellite nations to become members of NATO and thus be under America’s safe protection

10 And I Brought you up from many places And led you through hazardous journeys, and told you to not take your eyes off this tukhis until we get to San Francisco, To live in the land of the free and the home of the brave! (Unfortunately, I also let you destroy the natives who were there before you. Oops. Sorry about that.)

11 And I raised up prophets and journalists from among your sons And socially woke activists from among your young people. Is that not so, O people of America? —says the LORD.

12 But you made the teenagers smoke Juuls  And ordered the climate science prophets not to prophesy, and the journalists to not hold truth to power, and you repeated the lies often attempting to make them true.

13 Ah, I will slow your movements As an economy is slowed When protectionist, isolationist tariffs are imposed, and trade agreements are wrought asunder.

14 Flight shall fail the swift because the flights are overbooked by greedy airlines, The strong shall find no strength being wearied from years of resisting POTUS and his ilk, And the warrior shall not save his life because they are busy stringing up razor-wire and shooting tear-gas at innocent refugees at your borders.

15 The gun-loving bigoted NRA member shall not “stand his ground” (even in Florida), And the well-heeled that can afford the best lawyers money can buy shall not escape, Nor the Presidential pardon save him from local prosecutors.

16 Even the most fearless defender of Trumpism Shall run away still woefully uninformed that day —declares the LORD.

Chapter 3

1 Hear this word, O POTUS of America, That the LORD has spoken concerning you, Concerning the whole family that I brought to your shores past Lady Liberty and all the other ports of entry Your family included, by the way, along with your probable illegal immigrant third wife.)

2 You falsely believe that “You alone can fix it” and that you have I singled out Of all the leaders of the earth—That is why I will call you to account For all your iniquities.

3 Can world leaders walk together if one of them is always insulting the others? Can a leader look Presidential when a little rain keeps him from joining other world leaders in a memorial service to honor the fallen?

4 Does an honest man seek to stop an investigation of him when he is innocent? Does a special prosecutor indict when he has no proof? Does a POTUS excuse the murder of a WaPo journalist ordered at the behest of a Saudi royal prince?

5 Is a POTUS impeached unless there are high crimes and misdemeanors? Do Special Prosecutor investigations spring up from the ground unless there is reasonable suspicion?

6 When a neo-Nazi white supremacist runs over and kills a protestor, Do the people not take alarm? Does division and hatred come to a country If hateful rhetoric has not caused it?

7 Indeed, my Lord GOD will do nothing if G”d’s people themselves will not rise up against this orange-faced scourge.

8 A despotic, narcissistic megalomaniac has roared, Who can but fear? The People have spoken, Who can but prophesy?

To be honest, even without changing a single word of this haftarah, it delivers us powerful lessons, cautions, and reminders that are very applicable in our own times. Chapter 3 verse 7 is the one that gives me pause as written:

Indeed, my Lord GOD does nothing Without having revealed His purpose To His servants the prophets.

What, G”d is your purpose in putting the U.S. through these current travails? What was Your purpose in putting your creations through the Shoah, WWI, the Crusades, and countless other wars, famines, plagues, etc.?  I am not Your prophet, so I cannot expect You to reveal Your purposed to me. I am, however, willing to be Your gadfly, and so I will ask You, straight out “Do You even have a plan?”

I can’t be sure of the answer to that, and I won’t accept, at face value, the concept of the ineffable G”d whose plans and purposes I, as a human, can never understand. Puhleeze. Pablum for the masses to keep them docile. If G”d has plans, I suspect that we’re constantly messing them up, rather than following them, or allowing them to follow G”d’s planned course.

So I rewrote the verse following the logic of folks like Elie Wiesel and others that to ask “where was G”d?” is always the wrong question, whereas to ask “where was humankind?” is the right one.

My fellow citizens of the United States: where are we at this time of crisis? We cannot stand idly by. Rise up. Rise up and help us cleanse and heal this great land.

Shabbat Shalom

©2018 by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this Parasha:

Vayeishev 5778 - Spirals
Vayeishev 5777 - Unspoilers
Vayeishev 5776 - Revisiting Mikol Hamishpakhot HaAdamah
Vayeishev 5775 - Seriously...Who Was That Guy?
Vayeishev 5773 - K'tonet Passim
Vayeishev 5772 - The Ram's Horn Rag
Vayeishev 5771-Ma T'vakeish?
Vayeishev 5768 - Strangers Walking Together
Vayeishev/Hanukah 5767-I Believe in Miracles
Vayeishev 5766-Who Was That Guy?
Vayeshev 5761 - In Gd's Time
Vayeshev 5765-Mikol HaMishpakhot HaAdamah
Vayeshev 5758-What's Worth Looking After

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