Thursday, April 07, 2011

No Words

Jake Goodman, Storahtelling Company Member
Shira Kline, Storahtelling Company Member
Storahtelling Maven Torah Reading Ritual

A few weeks ago, Shira Kline and I went to the lovely, exquisitely hospitable, charming B'nai Abraham Synagogue in Easton, PA to do a Maven Torah Reading Ritual about the story of the death of Aaron's two sons, adapting a brilliant script by the one and only David Loewy.  Our premise was essentially that there is great risk in trying to achieve intimacy and, sometimes, when you get too close, you get burned.  

But since that gig, I have a new take on what the parsha means.  (To me.  Today.)

For almost everybody I know, March was a difficult month.  All of my friends seemed to be burned by life.  Some had deaths in the family; some ended relationships; some were insanely busy doing work they hated; some were facing health problems.  One of my friends said that she felt sunburned on the inside.  

In the Torah story, Nadav and Avihu (Aaron's two eldest sons and the next in line to become the high priest) offer up a sacrifice of strange/alien/unfamiliar fire on their own initiative and are literally eaten up by god.  Their father, Aaron, watches, presumably in horror, and is silent.

I've been thinking about what Aaron's silence implies.  There are many theories, but I have more of a thought than a theory.  It's simply that we all get burned sometimes by life and sometimes we watch people we love get burned, which can be equally painful.  It's been my experience that people want to understand why bad things happen, why life blows at the moment, what went wrong, what is wrong with us.  We tell ourselves stories to try to make sense of things.  We find some reason, something to blame, or something in which to find hope.

From Aaron, I learn that sometimes all of that work is foolish.  There may not be a good reason.  It may not be your fault.  It may just suck. Sometimes, there are no words.

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