Category Archives: Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

It’ s not me. It’s the monster

Globalization and neoliberalism. They’ve become the explanations du jour for the decimation of industries and the devastation of lives, for falling wages and slashed public spending. And there is, of course, truth to the claim. But capitalism was chewing up and spitting out its victims long before the market was globalised or liberalism became neo’d.

One of the great novels of the Great Depression, of the wretchedness of poverty in 1930s America, was written half a century before those words were invented. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.  It tells the story of one family, the Joads, tenant farmers from Oklahoma, who are forced off their land by the banks, pushed into migrating to the promised land of California, and the even greater wretchedness they find in their Utopia. It is a story of the pitilessness of capitalism, the dignity of work, the horrors of migration, the disintegration of a family. It is in turns angry and tender, polemical and poetic, allegorical and melodramatic. Steinbeck does not ignore the history of the land and how it was acquired (‘Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away’), but he unquestioningly stands with the farmers in their bewilderments and in their battles. There are times, especially in the second half of the book, where the anger seems to overwhelm the writing. But, given the subject, and given what Steinbeck set out to do – to ‘rip a reader’s nerves to rags ‘, as he himself put it – that is, perhaps, both inevitable and necessary.

– Kenan Malik

This is an extract from Chapter 5, that tells of how those responsible for evicting the farmers justified their actions. ‘We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster’. A passage and a book that feels as meaningful and vital today as it did when first published almost a century ago.


From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck,
Chapter 5

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath

The owners of the land came onto the land, or more often a spokesman for the owners came. They came in closed cars, and they felt the dry earth with their fingers, and sometimes they drove big earth augers into the ground for soil tests. The tenants, from their sun-beaten dooryards, watched uneasily when the closed cars drove along the fields. And at last the owner men drove into the dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then squatted on their hams and found sticks with which to mark the dust.

In the open doors the women stood looking out, and behind them the children – corn-headed children, with wide eyes, one bare foot on top of the other bare foot, and the toes working. The women and the children watched their men talking to the owner men. They were silent.

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank – or the Company – needs – wants – insists – must have – as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You’ve scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.

The squatting tenant men nodded and wondered and drew figures in the dust, and yes, they knew, God knows. If the dust only wouldn’t fly. If the top would only stay on the soil, it might not be so bad.

The owner men went on leading to their point: You know the land’s getting poorer. You know what cotton does to the land; robs it, sucks all the blood out of it.

The squatters nodded – they knew, God knew. If they could only rotate the crops they might pump blood back into the land.

Well, it’s too late. And the owner men explained the workings and the thinkings of the monster that was stronger than they were. A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay taxes; he can do that.

Yes, he can do that until his crops fail one day and he has to borrow money from the bank.

But – you see, a bank or a company can’t do that, because those creatures don’t breathe air, don’t eat side-meat. They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don’t get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so. It is just so.

Alexandre Hogue The Crucified Land

The squatting men raised their eyes to understand. Can’t we just hang on? Maybe the next year will be a good year. God knows how much cotton next year. And with all the wars – God knows what price cotton will bring. Don’t they make explosives out of cotton? And uniforms? Get enough wars and cotton’ll hit the ceiling. Next year, maybe. They looked up questioningly.

We can’t depend on it. The bank – the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.

Soft fingers began to tap the sill of the car window, and hard fingers tightened on the restless drawing sticks. In the doorways of the sun-beaten tenant houses, women sighed and then shifted feet so that the one that had been down was now on top, and the toes working. Dogs came sniffing near the owner cars and wetted on all four tires one after another. And chickens lay in the sunny dust and fluffed their feathers to get the cleansing dust down to the skin. In the little sties the pigs grunted inquiringly over the muddy remnants of the slops.

The squatting men looked down again. What do you want us to do? We can’t take less share of the crop – we’re half starved now. The kids are hungry all the time. We got no clothes, torn an’ ragged. If all the neighbors weren’t the same, we’d be ashamed to go to meeting.

And at last the owner men came to the point. The tenant system won’t work any more. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop. We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster.

But you’ll kill the land with cotton.

We know. We’ve got to take cotton quick before the land dies. Then we’ll sell the land. Lots of families in the East would like to own a piece of land.

The tenant men looked up alarmed. But what’ll happen to us? How’ll we eat?

You’ll have to get off the land. The plows’ll go through the dooryard.

Clyfford Styll Gleaners

And now the squatting men stood up angrily. Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here, and he killed weeds and snakes. Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An’ we was born here. There in the door – our children born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised.

We know that – all that. It’s not us, it’s the bank. A bank isn’t like a man. Or an owner with fifty thousand acres, he isn’t like a man either. That’s the monster.

Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.

We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.

Yes, but the bank is only made of men.

No, you’re wrong there – quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.

The tenants cried, Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land. Maybe we can kill banks – they’re worse than Indians and snakes. Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, like Pa and Grampa did.

And now the owner men grew angry. You’ll have to go.

But it’s ours, the tenant men cried. We –

No. The bank, the monster owns it. You’ll have to go.

We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then?

Well – first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants.

But if we go, where’ll we go? How’ll we go? We got no money.

We’re sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can’t be responsible. You’re on land that isn’t yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there? And the owner men started their cars and rolled away.

James Edward Allen Praying for Rain

The tenant men squatted down on their hams again to mark the dust with a stick, to figure, to wonder. Their sunburned faces were dark, and their sun-whipped eyes were light. The women moved cautiously out of the doorways toward their men, and the children crept behind the women, cautiously, ready to run. The bigger boys squatted beside their fathers, because that made them men. After a time the women asked, What did he want?

And the men looked up for a second, and the smolder of pain was in their eyes. We got to get off. A tractor and a superintendent. Like factories.

Where’ll we go? the women asked.

We don’t know. We don’t know.

And the women went quickly, quietly back into the houses and herded the children ahead of them. They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.

After a time perhaps the tenant man looked about – at the pump put in ten years ago, with a goose-neck handle and iron flowers on the spout, at the chopping block where a thousand chickens had been killed, at the hand plow lying in the shed, and the patent crib hanging in the rafters over it.

The children crowded about the women in the houses. What we going to do, Ma? Where we going to go?

The women said, We don’t know, yet. Go out and play. But don’t go near your father. He might whale you if you go near him. And the women went on with the work, but all the time they watched the men squatting in the dust – perplexed and figuring.

Georgia O'Keeffe Bones and Red Hills

The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects. They crawled over the ground, laying the track and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and then settled down to a droning roar.

Snubnosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.

The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat. The thunder of the cylinders sounded through the country, became one with the air and the earth, so that earth and air muttered in sympathetic vibration. The driver could not control it – straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could swerve the cat’, but the driver’s hands could not twitch because the monster that built the tractors, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver’s hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him – goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest. He could not see the land as it was, he could not smell the land as it smelled; his feet did not stamp the clods or feel the warmth and power of the earth. He sat in an iron seat and stepped on iron pedals. He could not cheer or beat or curse or encourage the extension of his power, and because of this he could not cheer or whip or curse or encourage himself. He did not know or own or trust or beseech the land. If a seed dropped did not germinate, it was nothing. If the young thrusting plant withered in drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor.

He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. He could admire the tractor – its machined surfaces, its surge of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades – not plowing but surgery, pushing the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut it and pushed it to the left; slicing blades shining, polished by the cut earth. And pulled behind the disks, the harrows combing with iron teeth so that the little clods broke up and the earth lay smooth. Behind the harrows, the long seeders – twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion. The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

At noon the tractor driver stopped sometimes near a tenant house and opened his lunch: sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, white bread, pickle, cheese, Spam, a piece of pie branded like an engine part. He ate without relish. And tenants not yet moved away came out to see him, looked curiously while the goggles were taken off, and the rubber dust mask, leaving white circles around the eyes and a large white circle around nose and mouth. The exhaust of the tractor puttered on, for fuel is so cheap it is more efficient to leave the engine running than to heat the Diesel nose for a new start. Curious children crowded close, ragged children who ate their fried dough as they watched. They watched hungrily the unwrapping of the sandwiches, and their hunger- sharpened noses smelled the pickle, cheese, and Spam. They didn’t speak to the driver. They watched his hand as it carried food to his mouth. They did not watch him chewing; their eyes followed the hand that held the sandwich. After a while the tenant who could not leave the place came out and squatted in the shade beside the tractor.

Mervin Jules Dispossessed

‘Why, you’re Joe Davis’s boy!’

‘Sure’, the driver said.

‘Well, what you doing this kind of work for – against your own people?’

‘Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner – and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day.’

‘That’s right,’ the tenant said. ‘But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can’t eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right?’

And the driver said, ‘Can’t think of that. Got to think of my own kids. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day. Times are changing, mister, don’t you know? Can’t make a living on the land unless you’ve got two, five, ten thousand acres and a tractor. Crop land isn’t for little guys like us any more. You don’t kick up a howl because you can’t make Fords, or because you’re not the telephone company. Well, crops are like that now. Nothing to do about it. You try to get three dollars a day someplace. That’s the only way.’

The tenant pondered. ‘Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn’t successful he’s big with his property. That is so.’

And the tenant pondered more. ‘But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it – why, then the property is the man. He can’t do what he wants, he can’t think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big—and he’s the servant of his property. That is so, too.’

The driver munched the branded pie and threw the crust away. ‘Times are changed, don’t you know? Thinking about stuff like that don’t feed the kids. Get your three dollars a day, feed your kids. You got no call to worry about anybody’s kids but your own. You get a reputation for talking like that, and you’ll never get three dollars a day. Big shots won’t give you three dollars a day if you worry about anything but your three dollars a day.’

‘Nearly a hundred people on the road for your three dollars. Where will we go?’

‘And that reminds me’, the driver said, ‘you better get out soon. I’m going through the dooryard after dinner.’

‘You filled in the well this morning.’

‘I know. Had to keep the line straight. But I’m going through the dooryard after dinner. Got to keep the lines straight. And – well, you know Joe Davis, my old man, so I’ll tell you this. I got orders wherever there’s a family not moved out – if I have an accident – you know, get too close and cave the house in a little – well, I might get a couple of dollars. And my youngest kid never had no shoes yet.’

Clare Leighton Bread Line

‘I built it with my hands. Straightened old nails to put the sheathing on. Rafters are wired to the stringers with baling wire. It’s mine. I built it. You bump it down—I’ll be in the window with a rifle. You even come too close and I’ll pot you like a rabbit.’

‘It’s not me. There’s nothing I can do. I’ll lose my job if I don’t do it. And look – suppose you kill me? They’ll just hang you, but long before you’re hung there’ll be another guy on the tractor, and he’ll bump the house down. You’re not killing the right guy.’

‘That’s so’, the tenant said. ‘Who gave you orders? I’ll go after him. He’s the one to kill.’

‘You’re wrong. He got his orders from the bank. The bank told him, ‘Clear those people out or it’s your job.’

‘Well, there’s a president of the bank. There’s a board of directors. I’ll fill up the magazine of the rifle and go into the bank.’

The driver said, ‘Fellow was telling me the bank gets orders from the East. The orders were, ‘Make the land show profit or we’ll close you up.’‘

‘But where does it stop? Who can we shoot? I don’t aim to starve to death before I kill the man that’s starving me.’

‘I don’t know. Maybe there’s nobody to shoot. Maybe the thing isn’t men at all. Maybe like you said, the property’s doing it. Anyway I told you my orders.’

‘I got to figure’, the tenant said. ‘We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.’ The tenant sat in his doorway, and the driver thundered his engine and started off, tracks falling and curving, harrows combing, and the phalli of the seeder slipping into the ground. Across the dooryard the tractor cut, and the hard, foot-beaten ground was seeded field, and the tractor cut through again; the uncut space was ten feet wide. And back he came. The iron guard bit into the house-corner, crumbled the wall, and wrenched the little house from its foundation so that it fell sideways, crushed like a bug. And the driver was goggled and a rubber mask covered his nose and mouth. The tractor cut a straight line on, and the air and the ground vibrated with its thunder. The tenant man stared after it, his rifle in his hand. His wife was beside him, and the quiet children behind. And all of them stared after the tractor.

The images are all paintings and etchings from, and of, the Great Depression in America. They are from top down, Maynard Dixon, ‘Shapes of Fear’ (1930-32); Alexandre Hogue, ‘The Crucified Land’ (1939); Clyfford Still, ‘Gleaners’ (1936);  James Allen Lane, ‘Prayer for Rain’ (1938); Georgia O’Keefe, ‘Red Hills and Bones’ (1941); Mervin Jules, ‘Dispossessed’ (1938); Clare Leighton, ‘Bread Line’, (1932).

The image of The Grapes of Wrath is of the first edition in 1939.

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Diversity and Equality

Andrew McFarland Campbell

Diversity and equality are two things that we hear about a lot today. Both are terms that most of us probably understand, but they are curiously hard terms to define. An organisation can be said to be diverse if it has a wide range of different viewpoints on a particular issue represented among its members, or it can be diverse if it has a wide range of people who are members. For example, an organisation could be politically diverse if some of its members were politically right-wing, some were politically left-wing, and some were politically middle-of-the-road. An organisation could be racially diverse if it contained people who came from a wide range of different races.

An organisation can be said to have equality on a particular issue if an individual’s beliefs or attributes on that issue do not affect the individual’s standing within the organisation. An organisation has political equality…

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Thomas Merton’s Prayer in Uncertainty

Lots of people may have lost the track of the path and do not know to temper their fear for what might be coming in this coronacrisis.
We only can hope more people shall find some more time to meditate and to pray to the One Who governs everything.

Words on the Word

I’ve loved this prayer of Thomas Merton’s since I visited Abbey of Gethsemani as a teenager:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the…

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Cartoon of the day 2020 August 12

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Redeeming Our World

Man, created in the image of God, received the world to use it for the best and not the worst. The man had to take care of it, but has proven to make a mess of it.

All problems that come over man are created by man himself, him polluting his own living quarters and not respecting that what he has received in loan from His Creator, the God of heaven and earth.

Mother Earth cries for distress and signals that it is high time to do something to get better. Each individual has to take his or her own responsibility.

Let us not wait but take this pandemic to make a turnover and start to find a more respectful way of living for each living being.

Wouldn’t it be great if, along with learning from this world crisis how to take better care of ourselves, we also learned how to take better care of our world? {Earth Day Lockdown}

Mitch Teemley

“Then the LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and watch over it.” ~Genesis 2:15

Reeem the Garden

As we return, post-lockdown, to the world around us, so does the pollution we create. If it is true, as some have said, that we ourselves are the disease (and there is truth in that), it’s also true that we hold the cure. But it seems those who focus habitually on what’s wrong with the world take little action to make things right with it, whether the world without or the world within, our souls. Yes, by all means, let us remove the toxins from the garden. But then let us go on to re-plant the garden.

“Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.” ~Henry David…

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Creating Community and Togetherness

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To remember

basics about us as humans = very social creatures.

  • massively increased our population > more & more find ourselves to be rather lonely.
  • western cultures > normal for a child to move out when they’re 18 and to begin their own lives
  •  focusing on careers => families + friends pushed aside
  • very toxic view of life
  • time to reach out to those you love, those you care about + maybe those you don’t know

Wellness Served

One of the basics about us as humans is that we are very social creatures. Thousands of years ago, we stayed together in groups, formed our own societies and relied on each other for support, safety, food and families. As society has gone on, we’ve definitely massively increased our population, but more and more of us find ourselves to be rather lonely.

In western cultures, it’s normal for a child to move out when they’re 18 and to begin their own lives, whether that be career or college. Maybe our kids come back for a holiday here or there, or a birthday, but usually families don’t see each other daily. We have societies in the east who find themselves hyper focused on careers, and families and friends are pushed aside as we strive to do better at work and with our career…

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Turning Your Home into a Sacred Space

Lots of Jews in our regions, for Sabbath keep the lights on from Friday afternoon, having no television or internet facilities and now being confronted with difficulties for feeling a togetherness and a feeling of having the right service for the Elohim, because they wonder if it would be all right to have a service via the modern tools and internet.

Having the Beis HaElohim and shuls already four months closed for study and prayer because of the corona lockdown, many feel 9 Av as an extra special day of sadness this year, them not having a meeting place, like our parents and grandparents were not able to gather because of the Nazi’s in the previous century. But this time it is not man but nature that keeps them and us in its grip.

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To remember

  • Take advantage of these unusual circumstances to experience something new.

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Preceding

Social Distanced but Spiritually Close

Hineni for our Virtual Services

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Find also to read:

  1. Eykhah – How can it be?
  2. Dark times looking like death is around the corner – but Light given to us
  3. Israel celebrates Purim amid Coronavirus outbreak – ILTV Israel news – Mar. 9, 2020
  4. Even in Corona time You are called on to have the seder
  5. One Passover tradition asking to provide the less fortunate with foods and help
  6. In a time when we must remain in our place
  7. 2020 A Passover seder meeting limited to members of the family
  8. 9 Av: Tisha B’Av 2020
  9. 9 Av 2020 en Dagen van droefheid
  10. Geestelijke affaires in CoViD-19 afzonderingstijden
  11. Voor het eerst in jaren weer een Pesach in isolatie
  12. Isolatietijd vrij te nemen voor jezelf
  13. Ontnomen van een gebedshuis #1 Doodveroorzakers
  14. Ontnomen van een gebedshuis #2 In de greep van een coronavirus

Cantor Matt Axelrod

וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם

They will make me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them.

For months now, we’ve all become accustomed to working from home–it’s gone more smoothly for some than for others. Social media has been replete with work-from-home fails: toddlers barging in on important calls, dogs and landscapers disrupting meetings with intrusive background noise, and even partially clad family members being caught on camera. Convenience aside, there’s a reason why work is kept in the workplace.

What we haven’t heard nearly as much about is praying from home. With synagogues shuttered, congregants have had to avail themselves of the various live feeds, streaming, and Zoom services that their temples have created. Furthermore, the pandemic and its continuing restrictions have forced us to begin planning extensively for the High Holidays considerably earlier than usual.

Be assured that your synagogue–wherever you belong–has already been thinking, planning, strategizing…

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Hineni for our Virtual Services

Whilst many in our regions are questioning if we can have virtual meetings or services or if we can create our own new texts, it looks like it that in the United States they are a lot of steps in front of us, recognising that we need new ways to gather but also should not be afraid to see that traditional texts of our familiar prayers need to be updated as well.

Cantor Matt Axelrod

Streaming services? Check. Virtual Choirs? Working on it.

But has anyone given any thought to the fact that the traditional texts of our familiar prayers need to be updated as well?

I therefore present my revised, COVID-era text for the iconic prayer of supplication and humility which is chanted by the cantor each year–the Hineni:

Here I stand, pixilated and buffering before You, streaming on behalf of your people Israel, even though my wifi is insufficient for the task. Therefore, as I stand frozen before you because my internet connection is unstable, I beseech you—the CEO of Zoom, the CEO of Facebook, and the CEO of Microsoft—I plead for help as I livestream my prayers for those I represent and who have entrusted me with the shul’s Zoom login credentials.

Do not judge them for my poor video quality, nor charge them because of my personal search history. Let there…

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Social Distanced but Spiritually Close

To remember

  • moving farther & farther apart from one another > notion of distancing – social or physical – = embedded itself into every facet of our lives.

 

  • minyan – in empty sanctuary > first truly tactile experience in synagogue over entire duration of our social distancing.
  • Jewish religion sending message of comfort & consolation. > It’s OK – we got this.
  •  second paragraph of the Shema = metaphor for our relationship with nature + the environment.
  • nature = quixotic + capricious
  • It may be time to take a fresh look at the ancient ritual of tefillin.

Cantor Matt Axelrod

Over the last whatever number of months (I can’t even remember what day it is), we have been moving farther and farther apart from one another. The notion of distancing–social or physical–has embedded itself into every facet of our lives.

It’s hard to imagine that I haven’t actually shaken anyone’s hand since March. I haven’t seen over 95% of my congregation in person. When I’m out running, I have to interrupt being able to get “in the zone” as I remember to steer around other walkers and runners. If I’m out shopping, I reflexively recoil anytime I feel another person getting too close. I can’t even watch TV shows or movies now without looking at the scenes and thinking that people are standing way too close to each other.

The other day as I was preparing to lead minyan–in my empty sanctuary, standing at my podium (and I mean my

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Corona en andere angsten

In dit artikel wordt gesproken over het feit dat iedereen een angst zou hebben voor het coronavirus, maar spijtig genoeg zijn er heel wat mensen die hier helemaal geen angst voor vertonen en het zelfs bagatelliseren.

Bepaalde presidenten willen hun bevolking doen geloven dat het hen niet zal klein kunnen krijgen, dit terwijl er massas mensen aan dood gaan in hun land.

Hier in West Europa zijn er jongeren die denken dat zij ontastbaar zijn en dat hun samentroepen geen kwaad kan. Vooralsnog willen zij hun pret niet laten bederven door opgelegde corona-maatregelen. Aldus negeren zij die maar, dat tenkoste van vele andere mensen die wel hun best doen om de verspreiding van deze vreselijke ziekte tegen te gaan.

Hier in dit artikel worden Jezus en God ook met elkaar verwisseld. Het is mooi om je hoop te stellen in Jezus, maar hij is niet God, maar de zoon van God en staat ten dienste van God. Hij is wel de voorspreker bij God en zo kan hij ons ook ten dienste staan.

Maar ook al is Jezus onze voorspreker en bemiddelaar bij God is het God Die alles laat gebeuren en van wie wij allemaal afhankelijk zijn. Hij bepaalt leven en dood. In Hem kunnen wij ons vertrouwen leggen, maar dat betekent niet dat ziekten over ons niet zullen meester kunnen zijn. Ook wij, als wij intens geloven kunnen nog erg te lijden krijgen als wij bepaalde ziekten of ongelukken oplopen.

De angst die wij door het geloof in Jezus, de gezondene van God, laten doen wegsmelten voor de zon, houdt er ons ook niet van weg om anderen te beschermen en om ons aan de wettelijke verplichtingen te houden. Steeds moeten wij aan de keizer geven wat de keizer toe komt, en de wettelijke maatregelen opvolgen zo lang zij niet indruisen tegen de geboden van God.

Wietze's Writings

Het coronavirus houdt de wereld in haar greep. Of eigenlijk moet ik zeggen dat de angst voor het coronavirus de wereld overheerst. Bijna iedereen is doodsbang om ziek te worden en daarom wordt er met man en macht gewerkt om het virus tegen te houden. Overal zijn speciale maatregelen ingesteld, die soms versoepeld worden en daarna weer strenger gemaakt worden. Van alle kanten komen allerlei stemmen om de regels te veranderen. Sommige mensen vinden ze overdreven en willen meer versoepelingen, terwijl anderen juist schreeuwen om meer bescherming, zoals de omstreden mondkapjesplicht.

Wat mij opvalt is dat er van alles aan gedaan wordt om de ziekte zo ver mogelijk bij ons uit de buurt te houden, maar niemand doet iets aan de angst. Terwijl het dáár nu juist om gaat! Waarom zijn wij zo bang voor die ene ziekte? We zijn niet bang voor een “gewoon” griepje, want we weten dat…

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