As a vision of God came to Ezekiel on the banks of the Kebar river, 622 BCE, ‘and the living beasts came and went as a shimmer of lightning,’ so one came to me this week, on the banks of the Hudson, in the year 2018. A scorpion’s tale rose from the hollow of my back, it’s stinger bit into my body, and her poison offered these prophecies …
The gods live. We go about our lives running to and fro as witless chickens assured that the gods are not real. The gods live.
Every human ego is a wondrous expression of spirit. Our struggles, the pain and hardship that we experience when we don’t get what we want, when small and mighty deaths greet our being – the gods smile and laugh at our little egos. How funny, how cute, are these little personalities making their way on the path toward enlightenment. We are welcome to take their perspective any time – hehe, what a funny little ego you are, I am! Perfect just as we are.
Judaism, this ancient mode of service, a way of turning our hearts, minds, spirits to the loci of the divine. Since the times of Abraham, Isaiah and Ezekiel, since the days of the prophetesses that have been erased by misogyny, has our people used this language and these customs to serve. We are keepers of a way. Judaism is not our tradition to use as it suits the marketplace of our lives; we are responsible for endowing this mode of service with renewed life-force, stewarding the way into its future. We are keepers of a way.
And we have no control, and neither do the gods. Our sense of autonomy, directive, the ability to change the world; we are not in control. As time unfolds before us, the gods too watch as spirit becomes. Control is a profound illusion, a mistake, egos struggling for substantiation. This is not to say that intention and service are not the most profound modes of being, but when we can arrive at the understanding that it is not our personal power that creates what is to be, then spirit can more fully realize that which she aspires to. The great pain of the political charade that plays out before us, the torment that a government and its evil henchman carry out, they will suffer greatly in the fires of hell for their sins; spirit will have her way with them. And those who suffer on their account will know peace. But you and I, release your sense of control – let loose your grasping hold on reality, it is causing you suffering. She is working her magic always, hidden from our eyes, and in time, all will be well. Step back into the dance of life when your chariot begins to lift from the ground.
Rabbi Zach Fredman
PS – The Epichorus is playing and recording this summer, and some of the material inspired by our High Holy Day services is on the setlist.
July 22nd – We’ll be at Racebrook Lodge in the Berkshires, with a big band. Come join us for the evening, or for the whole weekend. It’s magical up there. (I will also appear as a special guest at the concert on July 21st).
July 24th – We’ll be at Sisters in Brooklyn, as part of the Brooklyn Maqam Hang. An instrumental ensemble will perform original pieces alongside repertoire from the Jewish communities of Syria and Iraq.
August 24th/25th – We’ll be recording at Dreamland, a beautiful wooden church studio near Woodstock. If enough folks are interested in coming through, we’ll barbecue, and maybe even get you on the record as The New Shul choir. Let me know if you’d like to join us!