2011-04-01 / Columnists

Point of View

WHEN SHALL WE SING?
“The Rabbi’s Personal Column”
Rabbi Allan Blaine Temple Beth-El, Rockaway Park

“You shall be free not when your days are without a care not your nights without want and grief, but rather when these things girdle your life and let you rise above them naked and unbound.”

A statement appears in the Jerusalem Talmud to the effect that men may break forth in song only when God performs great miracles of deliverance. The Rabbis debate the issue. Why, they ask, does the Bible record no songs having been sung when Haman was liquidated and his cohorts throughout the Persian empire destroyed? Why, too, have we no record of songs being sung at the time of the exodus from Egypt?

These moments, they say, prompted no songs of jubilation. Neither victory over Haman nor exodus from Egypt were proper moments for the true song of freedom. The former since it was only a victory over personal enemies, the latter not yet worthy since it was only the beginning of freedom. It took the Israelites forty long, hard years to produce a truly free people

To the Rabbis the song is to be sung only when the true victory is won and when the task is complete.

By nature we have a penchant for singing songs of victory prematurely. As if yesterday, I hear the anguished cry of a world aghast at the revelations of Nazi bestiality in the concentration camps – “Plus Jamais” was the cry – Never again! Never Again! The rise today in anti-Semitism world-wide and even in our own land indicates otherwise. Great actors in a drunken state reveal their anti-Jewish feeling.

The revolutions in mid eastern countries and the cry for freedom is heartwarming but the jury is still out as to whether true democracy will ultimately emerge from these revolutions.

Passover is not the time for breaking forth in songs of victory. Technological and scientific advancement are not sufficient inducement for jubilation in an era in which men and women die daily on battlefields. We pierce the planet and soar to the moon and at the same time are bogged down in a hopeless mire in the troubled, crime infested, big cities of our nation. Suddenly, many have lost the basic freedoms which were elementary rights of humans from the dawn of time. The caveman could breathe fresh, clean air, fish in unpolluted streams and drink clear, sparkling water from unpoisoned streams, lakes and brooks – can we? Can the poor unfortunate Japanese? Technology and Toyotas aside no songs of victory for the suffering Japanese

On Passover we raise our cups of wine in celebration. We review the ancient redemption of our people, the march to Sinai and the acceptance of an ethical and moral code which has carried and been carried by our people for centuries. As we give thought to the meaning of freedom on Passover, let us pray that the coming year will see the beginning of the true song of freedom and of peace for men and women everywhere.

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PASSOVER IS COMING!!!.

There will be a Passover Kiddush on each of the (Yom Tovs) - Holy Days of Obligation after services – Tuesday and Wednesday, April 19th and 20th, Saturday, April 23rd and Monday and Tuesday, April 25th and 26th in the Temple’s sanctuary.

Happy Holidays!

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This monthly column continues with thanks to an anonymous donor.

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