2020-03-23 – Welcome to ‘Pocalypso.
This second Monday of the shut down is not much different from Mondays I’ve celebrated for the last six years. I’ve been a telecommuter for that time, so I’m used to the routine. But I’m not used to the fear. That’s why I’m writing. I won’t shy from the issues of the day, but I need to see beyond them, as well.
Last week I attended the webcast of a funeral for a cousin in California. Her sad and untimely death was unrelated to the current plague, but the webcast was absolutely its result. Here’s the weird thing: the webcast enabled me to attend the funeral. In the midst of personal tragedy. In the midst of global tragedy, I was able to be there in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.
After the funeral, the family also webcast the daily prayers for the week of shiva. I don’t go to daily prayers. But I do understand the solace they provide. So I’ve clicked in a few times. Two things grabbed my attention: one from the funeral and one from the shiva webcast Saturday night at the close of Shabbat (the Sabbath).
It’s pretty standard to read the 23rd Psalm at a funeral. You know: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . .” At the funeral, this was first beautifully sung in Hebrew by the congregation’s female cantor, then read by the male rabbi in English.
And here is the passage that struck me: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
A table. Not a fortress. Not a battlement. I never thought about that before. I’ll leave that for you to think about.
Here’s the second thing that grabbed my attention on Saturday night: the singing of “Hinei Mah Tov.” This is traditional for Shabbat. The whole thing is “Hinei mah tov u’ma na-im shevet achim gam yachad.” This is from Psalm 133. It means (literally): “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to sit together in unity.”
I wonder if they are sitting at that table from Psalm 23.
We dance to this song.
Here’s a YouTube video of Harry Belafonte singing a 1960 concert version of this great song.
My Monday is pretty normal. The alarm went off at 6:00 and I took a shower. I went down stairs in the dark and saw the eyes of my dog Rebe peeking over the top of the couch. I got her leash and took her out for a walk. Then I checked my work email. I have a fairly normal day ahead of me. Except for the fear.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
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