Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Wedding Parable

The wedding hall

Jumping, screaming, smiling, singing, dancing.

The bride at the center, pulling people in.

The music is throbbing with our hearts. This is everyone's happiness.

The joy is unbridled, and we're all feeling light and limitless.

The dancing is coming from another place.

Suddenly, over yonder, the brides groom can be seen, bopping up and down.

There he is. There he goes. There he is. There he goes.

Atop a circular table being supported by his enthusiastic friends, he is waving his hands.

He is looking for his bride.

On our side, the girls are racing to clear the closest table.

Plates. Off. Cups. Off. napkins. Off. Cell phones. Off. Centerpiece. Off. Tablecloth. Off.

We bring the table to the bride. She looks a little apprehensive.

But her groom is waiting. There's no time to waste.

She climbs onto the table. And here we go. Let's do this, ladies.

We surround the table, putting our hands under the edge and lifting.

Up she goes.

But the table is heavy. And we're all a different height and a different strength, so the table is wobbly.

The bride can't stand straight. She's looking down, watching the floor, fearing her fall.

But with unity is balance. We all do our best, lifting our hands to the same level. For the short, they hold high. For the tall, they hold low.

All of a sudden, the bride is standing straight. She looks up. She sees her groom.

And us below her, we're in a momentum. The table is not heavy anymore. When you have many hands all doing their best, it's a lot easier on everyone. And, of course, there's that one person who's trying so hard that it lightens our load, and motivates us. And then, it's like the table is just floating.

The bride is smiling. The balance has brought her groom into clear vision. She is waving her hands, eyes focused on her new husband.

Using only her smile and her eyes, the bride tells her husband, "I want to hold you, and never let go."

We're all cheering.


The Jewish people are jumping, screaming, smiling, singing, dancing.

Hashem is looking for his bride. But he wants to meet us halfway. So he's bopping up and down.

Now we see Him, now we don't. Now we see Him, now we don't.

He's waiting for us to climb to him, to do everything in our might to put him in sight. To sweat just a little bit.

We, his betrothed, catch sight of him. We go racing. We want him.

Our desire makes us irresistible to G-d.

First, we have to clear our tables. We have to clean the surface, removing all barriers. There cant be any mess. There can't be a brick wall in between. On our journey to G-d, we need a strong support and internal strength. This way, our marriage comes from within - we can't easily fall.

Distractions. Off. Sadness. Off. Hatred. Off. Ego. Off. More ego. Off.

There is a sense of urgency. Every second of not seeing Him is an eternity. Hurry.

We want to be close. We want to be close. We want to be close.

Clear the table.

Joy reigns. Breaking down limits to let him in. Let him in. We're getting closer.

But we're a little scared, a little apprehensive.

Life on the ground is so much better. Raising higher to make heaven meet earth is a tremendous feat. What if we wobble? What if we fall?

Alas, sometimes you just have to jump. You just gotta do it.

And at first, we do wobble. We're looking down. We can't seem to let go.

So we try harder. We all do our best to find the balance. We have to stand straighter than this. We're G-d's people.

So, the more we do our part, the easier it is for everyone. We're all one. Totally connected. Our efforts together make it easier for the entire nation. I'm conquering this here in Brooklyn, and the burden lightens for a Jew in Jerusalem.

And then there's that one leader who comes with his strong arms to help us move forward a little quicker. He champions our cause, beseeches on our behalf, and listens to our successes, our failures, our souls. We all feel him bringing us closer, higher.

Now, we're gaining momentum. We're all doing what we got to do. With joy. With unity.

And now, with G-d in our sight but still distant, we're moving mountains to get to his heart.

Soon, we will finally see him.

Hashem will have his bride.

We will both smile. And it will be a moment full of transcendence and love.

We will look at Hashem and say, "I want to hold you, and never let go."

And the whole world - all the nations, the oceans, the birds, the trees - oh, how they'll cheer.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sweat and all

A young child was looking for his father.

It was years ago, during Shavuos, right outside 770.

A humble corner on Eastern Parkway was packed with people, strollers, and running children. Shul was out, and everyone was waiting to watch the Rebbe leave.

It was a hot day. Sweat trickled down the foreheads of eager onlookers.

But, while everyone was looking for the Rebbe, one young child was lost in a sea of black. He too wanted to see the Rebbe, and his mother had encouraged him to brave the swarms with his father. But now, his father had dissolved into the black mass, nowhere to be found.

All of a sudden, the Chassidim started singing. The crowd got tighter.

Just then, among the rush, the child caught a glimpse of his father. He quickly grabbed onto his kapote. He wasn't going to lose him this time. Now content, but still feeling harried, he used his father's black jacket to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

When he looked up, he saw someone far older than his father. He saw someone that, along with him, hundreds had their eyes on.

The young child had just wiped his sweat on the Rebbe's kapote.


The young child's mother, who had been watching the Rebbe, was humiliated when she noticed her child. In a letter, she poured out her elaborate request for the Rebbe's forgiveness.

But the Rebbe did not accept her apology.

In a letter, he responded:

"If you only knew the great (spiritual) pleasure that gave me. If only it was this way with the adults ("Ein leshaer godel hanachas ruach, v'halvai hoyo mein ze bagedolim")."

Holding the letter in her hand, right then and there, she was privy to the depths of just how much the Rebbe wanted to be everyone's Tatty.


The Rebbe's response was a protest to our notions of him as an untouchable holy figure.
A child wiping sweat on his kapote was worth so much to the Rebbe - and certainly more than all the distant veneration.

The Rebbe refused to stay in everyone's mind, stuck in their frame of reverence.

He was constantly saying, "Get closer."

He was saying, "If I'm not a father, than what am I?"

In the Rebbe's simple response lies the whole of our relationship to G-d.

G-d is constantly asking us to bring him closer into our lives, our hearts. Blood, sweat, and tears - he wants it all. Why? Because He wants us.

Just like the Rebbe is more of a Rebbe when we wipe our sweat on him, so too with Hashem...

... you can never get too close.


So, it was years ago, Shavuos time, right outside of 770.

A young child was lost in a sea of black, searching for his father.

Instead, he found the Rebbe.

But still, it was his father he found.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Two Minutes

On the way.

Niggunim are playing.

The vintage tape is unclear, but the Rebbe's voice is strong. Relevant. Urgent.

Out my window, the Jewish faces zoom by.

We have begun the march.

We're on our way.

There's a lot of traffic for 10 pm.

"Are they going to the Ohel?"

"Don't think so. They're black."

"Ya, you'd be surprised."

The Rebbe was everyone's Rebbe.

We are quite the flock.


I'm trying to prepare.

I'm thinking, "Who is the Rebbe? What is this all about?"

I'm thinking, "Who am I? What am I all about?"

In line.

So it's not just me.

We all want to be Chassidim.

The men. The women. The young. The old. The bearded. The shaven. The skirt. The pants. No one's claiming rights here. G-d wants us all, and the Rebbe proved it.

I watch the policemen.

While they see a graveyard, we see life.

Crazy crazy Jews.

I write my letter.

My heart spills in black ink.

From, Miriam bas Leah Simcha.

Your proud soldier.

I open my Tehillim. Always the right words.

All of a sudden, someone wants to use my phone. There's no such thing as strangers in a line like this, a line with this purpose. Sure, here's my phone. And here's my pen. And I have paper, too. Hi Doris from Iran. Nice to meet you. My name is Mimi, or Miriam.

A baby is crying. We all feel the mother's needs. Afterall, Chassidim are one family. Come here, nurse your baby. We'll block you. The crying stops. The family of hundreds feels calm again.

Inching closer. No rush. A calm focus.

A young boy rests his head on Tatty's shoulder. Tatty is telling a story to an older man. It seems to be this man's first time. His eyes are glistening.

The Rebbe is on the video. He is talking. He is singing.

I want to pluck him from the video.

Rebbe, why are you on a screen?

A pain in my heart longs for closeness.

And suddenly I am being rushed in.

I hold the line to drop some coins.

And here I go.


In the womb.

I look around.

Two headstones surrounded by life.


Prayers. Tears. Gratefulness.

Hashem, look at your children.

Just look at us.

We always show up.

Even for two minutes.

And two minutes is enough.

We're on Rebbe time. Each second is packed.

Besides, when you're face to face like this, the truth comes out.

Time forces honesty. No words are extra.

The depths come rushing to my lips.

Hashem, I just want to be good.

I want to be good.

Throat tightening.

Eyes wetting.

Hashem, I want to be good.

Lips tighten.

A tear.

Hashem, I want to be good.

Cheeks flushed.

Eyes moist.

Hashem, be with me.

I want to be good.

And here's what I'm going to do.

A holy conversation. Tehillim.

I read my letter. I scatter the pieces.


And I'm being rushed to my left.


I feel humbled.

I feel light.

I feel strong.

I feel heard.

I feel close.

Going home.

Niggunim are playing.

The vintage tape is unclear, but the Rebbe's voice is strong. Relevant. Urgent.

Out my window, the Jewish faces zoom by.

We have begun the march.

We're on our way.

General info/stories/etc:
The Rebbe

My piece from last year:
The Rebbe Unplugged

One groups visit to the Ohel:
Return of the Souls