In keeping with the theme from my 5761 musing for Pesach VII, which I redundantly used again in 5765 (with a few extra thoughts), a little redundant redundancy as I re-use that same musing for even more "Redundant Anamnesis." Though, as always, I couldn’t refrain from adding a few new thoughts for this year as well..
Random Musings Before Shabbat-Pesach VII 5761 (Revised 5765, 5768)
A quick thought before this Shabbat. It’s a word I’ve used before. Literally "again to remember" but more commonly seen as "making the past present." It is surely something we do at our Pesach Sedarim each year. In fact, we are commanded to act as if we ourselves had been freed from slavery in Egypt. And it is a theme that is carried through the Pesach festival. On the seventh day, we read again all of parashat Beshalach plus just the first few lines of Yitro (Exodus 13:17-15:26.) We once again recount the miracle that Gd performed at the Sea of Reeds. We "remember again." We also read the few short lines from parashat Pinchas in Bamidbar that speak of the Pesach festival (Numbers 28:19-25.) We "remember again." (Though notice, cleverly, how the sages have us not read the first 3 lines of this passage, which describe the time and first day of Pesach. Perhaps they wish to remind us that we are at that seventh day, the one that is to be a holy occasion to us, as told in the last line. And by starting at verse 19, and including the lines about the sacrifices, it reminds us that we perform these rituals throughout the Festival.)
Our sages were wise. They knew that just remembering for two nights of the seven days of the Pesach festival weren’t enough. They chose readings for Hol Hamoed and the last days of Pesach that continue the process of anamnesis.
And the haftarah from II Samuel (22:1-51) is yet another bit of anamnesis, as David recalls the miracles that Gd performed for him, allowing him to be victorious over his enemies, just as Gd had performed miracles for Israel during the Exodus. [Imperfect a human as he was, we read in these words attributed to him David’s wavering between moments of hubris (look at what I did) and humility (look what Gd has done.)] (2005)
[It’s also interesting to examine the differences between Moses’ song and David’s song, particularly in the imagery of Gd. The Gd in Moses’ song is much more the active warrior. And there’s no hint that it was other than Gd who brought forth the miracle for which Moses is now singing Gd’s praises.] (2005)
[2008- In re-reading this Haftarah, I am really stunned by the warrior G"d imagery. This text, and many others, set a precedent for self-righteous religious puffiness, something we ought to be avoiding and not endorsing during Pesach. I’m a great hero because I have followed G"d’s ways, so G"d will do battle for me, and enable me to do well in battle. Where’s the humility? Where’s the compassion. Why can’t David pray something like this:
I have tried so very hard to follow Your ways
And though I may not have always been able to live up to Your expectations
You have always been my protecting shield
Perhaps you find some merit in me
That you enable me to defeat those who would oppose me (and therefore oppose You)
And give me skills and intelligence to succeed against my enemies
I am no hero, G"d.
I am but Your humble servant
May you continue to be merciful and compassionate
When we left Egypt, and Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the sea
Did you not rebuke us for celebrating without noting the tragedy
That some of Your creations had to die?
O Rock and Protector,
May we know a present and a future with no need for heroes, for war, for killing, for suffering
And may we always regret the war, killing, and suffering in our past.
Well, I’d like to think it’s what he could have said instead. Oh, well.] (2008)
[There’s also three wonderful verses that give a different idea of the balance that Gd may have been seeking with the "lex talionis" (eye for an eye.) In II Samuel 26-28 we read:
With the loyal You deal loyally
With the blameless hero, blamelessly
With the pure you act in purity
And with the perverse You are wily
To humble folk You give victory
And You look with scorn upon the haughty (JPS)
(Not to argue with the scholarship of the editors of the JPS Tanakh, but a more literal translation might be:
With a pious one, you make yourself pious
With a blameless hero, blamelessly
With a pure one, You make yourself pure
With a twisted one, you make yourself tortuous
To humble people, deliverance
And in your eyes the high are made low)
As David says in the preceding verse, Gd deals with us as our purity appears to Gd. A balance is attempted by Gd to mete out just treatment. Yet this is a rather human trait-to treat others as they treat us. And the temptation to deal with the wicked with wickedness is hard to resist. But I digress. Back to our redundant anamnesis.] (2005)
And on the 8th day of Pesach we perform yet one more act of anamnesis with a Yizkor service, bringing our deceased love ones to life through remembering them.
So, while it may seem redundant to say "redundant anamnesis" that’s exactly what we have here. Repetitive remembering again. And how wonderful and meaningful it is to do so. To live each day of the present as though the miracles of the past were happening to us, right at this moment. [In a way, they truly are. We are, after all, still here. That, in itself is a miracle. Let’s not be so quick to attribute this to our own stubbornness and stiff-necked-ness, lest in our hubris we are made humble by Gd.] (2005)
[2008 – I cannot emphasize this enough. Our survival cannot be entirely attributed to our stubborn nature as a people. And if that is what we count on to carry us into the future, we should be wary. Yes, our stubborn nature has helped, but I wonder if, instead, we might try another approach?] (2008)
So, have a little anamnesis this Shabbat. Remember. Remember again. And again. And again. Until you truly are one with the past and it is one with you.
©2001, parts © 2005 and 2008