I read this poetic midrash this past Friday night, but have been continuing to edit it. As it is still a work-in-progress I would appreciate any comments you might have.
In response to the horrific terrorist attack at the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem last week, which killed five people, including four rabbis, I joined so many other rabbis in trying to figure out the best way to address the occurrence at services.
As has been the case in the past, I really believe it is my job to present some kind of a theological response to the tragedy, rather than to talk politics. Of course, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and terrorist attacks, it is impossible to be apolitical. I have learned that the hard way. So, even if my intention is not political, there are certainly political implications. But I will leave it to the reader to draw her/his own conclusion.
In ancient times, the rabbis did not write systematic theology. Rather, they used midrash (rabbinic tales based on biblical texts) to portray the relationship between God and humanity. In these tales, one can discover their ideas about that relationship, and about the nature of God and the human beings created in the divine image,
I decided to write a midrash based on the birth of the twins Jacob and Esau, and the sibling rivalry which existed from the start, but was certainly exploited by their parents. I related this sibling relationship to that of Isaac and his half brother Ishmael. The two relationships were very different, as they are portrayed in Bereshit/Genesis.
People often speak of the latter sibling relationship because the Jews are the descendants of Isaac and the Muslims and Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael. However, perhaps the other sibling rivalry is a better description of the situation. I'll leave that for each of you to decide.
As I am writing this, here in America we are watching the reaction to what occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, and the discussion about racial inequality and prejudice which still exists today in America. I can't help wonder whether or not the same issues I raise here could also be raised in relationship to race relations in the USA and, if so, how would they apply. I would be interested to hear any thoughts on this subject.
L'shalom - in Peace,
struggling from the start vying for attention
born of the same father but
different mothers different wombs different circumstances
it was never brother against brother until her fear made it so
the mother who had created the rivalry where none had been
was to remain separated remain other even in death
that harmony will has been returned to the family the people and the land
forced upon them by their parents which they never desired
two linked to each other struggling with each other
and God we weep for you as well
is the source of the struggle the hatred