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ELI Talks: Marita Anderson

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Created September 7, 2016 · 2329 Views נוצר 7 September, 2016 · 2329 צפיות

    Rachel Yehuda, a scientist who studies epigenetic, has developed a theory that the effects of trauma are transmitted from generation to generation.  For example, in her study on children of Holocaust survivors, she shows that they are three times as likely to develop PTSD if they were exposed to a traumatic event than Jews whose parents were not in the Holocaust.  

    Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, wrote about the generational impact of trauma in Open Closed Open:

  1. Open Closed Open
    ​by Yehuda Amichai
    "I wasn’t one of the six million who died in the Shoah,
    I wasn’t even among the survivors.
    And I wasn’t one of the six hundred thousand who went out of Egypt.
    I came to the Promised Land by sea.
    No, I was not in that number, though I still have the fire and the smoke
    within me, pillars of fire and pillars of smoke that guide me
    by night and by day. I still have inside me the mad search
    for emergency exits, for soft places, for the nakedness
    of the land, for the escape into weakness and hope,
    I still have within me the lust to search for living water
    with quiet talk to the rock or with frenzied blows."
  2. If one believes that the world is falling apart now, a reading of Jeremiah's cosmic image of the end of the world is a reminder that the  world has fallen apart before.  Here, Jeremiah is talking about the destruction of the Temple as the center of creation and the return to the premordial state of tohu v'vohu.   These are words of grief over the perpetual state of creation reversal.  

    Jeremiah's poetry is not meant to predict the future of catastrophic events or simply compose a record of history.  Jeremiah's words force the listener to look upon our wounds in order to heal them.  

  3. (כג) רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְהִנֵּה־תֹ֖הוּ וָבֹ֑הוּ וְאֶל־הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ין אוֹרָֽם׃ (כד) רָאִ֙יתִי֙ הֶֽהָרִ֔ים וְהִנֵּ֖ה רֹעֲשִׁ֑ים וְכָל־הַגְּבָע֖וֹת הִתְקַלְקָֽלוּ׃ (כה) רָאִ֕יתִי וְהִנֵּ֖ה אֵ֣ין הָאָדָ֑ם וְכָל־ע֥וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם נָדָֽדוּ׃ (כו) רָאִ֕יתִי וְהִנֵּ֥ה הַכַּרְמֶ֖ל הַמִּדְבָּ֑ר וְכָל־עָרָ֗יו נִתְּצוּ֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה מִפְּנֵ֖י חֲר֥וֹן אַפּֽוֹ׃ (ס)

    (23) I look at the earth, It is unformed and void; At the skies, And their light is gone. (24) I look at the mountains, They are quaking; And all the hills are rocking. (25) I look: no man is left, And all the birds of the sky have fled. (26) I look: the farm land is desert, And all its towns are in ruin— Because of the LORD, Because of His blazing anger.

  4. (י) עַל־מִ֨י אֲדַבְּרָ֤ה וְאָעִ֙ידָה֙ וְיִשְׁמָ֔עוּ הִנֵּה֙ עֲרֵלָ֣ה אָזְנָ֔ם וְלֹ֥א יוּכְל֖וּ לְהַקְשִׁ֑יב הִנֵּ֣ה דְבַר־יְהוָ֗ה הָיָ֥ה לָהֶ֛ם לְחֶרְפָּ֖ה לֹ֥א יַחְפְּצוּ־בֽוֹ׃
    (10) To whom shall I speak, Give warning that they may hear? Their ears are blocked And they cannot listen. See, the word of the LORD has become for them An object of scorn; they will have none of it.
  5. Jeremiah asks the people of Judah to "circumcise" their hearts and remove the thick layers of protection that prevent them from feeling, experiencing, and hearing truth.   "Listen!" Jeremiah repeats his plea for the people to pay attention and listen.  You must keep the conversation going, even if we are yelling and screaming.  Jeremiah is trying to keep the community from shutting down in denial or inaction.  


  6. (ד) הִמֹּ֣לוּ לַיהֹוָ֗ה וְהָסִ֙רוּ֙ עָרְל֣וֹת לְבַבְכֶ֔ם

    (4) Open your hearts to the LORD, Remove the thickening about your hearts

  7. Jeremiah's poetry shows deep empathy to the suffering of his people, so much so that he feels the pain in his very body.  

  8. (כא) עַל־שֶׁ֥בֶר בַּת־עַמִּ֖י הָשְׁבָּ֑רְתִּי קָדַ֕רְתִּי שַׁמָּ֖ה הֶחֱזִקָֽתְנִי׃
    (21) Because my people is shattered I am shattered; I am dejected, seized by desolation.
  9. Jeremiah is describing how trauma becomes a somatic experience in the human body, changing its very function and shape.  He wishes that his head were filled with water so his tears could flow day and night.   He shows and overwhelmed nation how to pray in the midst of devastation.  When he finds himself in the pit of hopelessness, Jeremiah clings to God, even as God is not showing up.  He is not afraid to open the wound of the tragedy that befell his nation and stare into it, as if God might dwell inside.  


  10. (כב) הַצֳרִי֙ אֵ֣ין בְּגִלְעָ֔ד אִם־רֹפֵ֖א אֵ֣ין שָׁ֑ם כִּ֗י מַדּ֙וּעַ֙ לֹ֣א עָֽלְתָ֔ה אֲרֻכַ֖ת בַּת־עַמִּֽי׃ (כג) מִֽי־יִתֵּ֤ן רֹאשִׁי֙ מַ֔יִם וְעֵינִ֖י מְק֣וֹר דִּמְעָ֑ה וְאֶבְכֶּה֙ יוֹמָ֣ם וָלַ֔יְלָה אֵ֖ת חַֽלְלֵ֥י בַת־עַמִּֽי׃

    (22) Is there no balm in Gilead? Can no physician be found? Why has healing not yet Come to my poor people? (23) Oh, that my head were water, My eyes a fount of tears! Then would I weep day and night For the slain of my poor people.

  11. This verse reminds me of the shiv'ah ritual of sitting in mourning for seven days after the burial of the dead.  The verse is also an example of what chaplains call "companioning", or bearing witness to suffering and being present to another's pain.  

    Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah explain human suffering as God's retribution for sin (which I do not believe in). Instead of focusing on the message of theodicy here, I would like to point out that they do not stand above the people; they suffer together with them. Jeremiah and Ezekiel are not alone in their weeping; they are crying together with God and the people.

  12. (טו) וָאָב֨וֹא אֶל־הַגּוֹלָ֜ה תֵּ֣ל אָ֠בִיב הַיֹּשְׁבִ֤ים אֶֽל־נְהַר־כְּבָר֙ ואשר [וָֽאֵשֵׁ֔ב] הֵ֖מָּה יוֹשְׁבִ֣ים שָׁ֑ם וָאֵשֵׁ֥ב שָׁ֛ם שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֖ים מַשְׁמִ֥ים בְּתוֹכָֽם׃
    (15) And I came to the exile community that dwelt in Tel Abib by the Chebar Canal, and I remained where they dwelt. And for seven days I sat there stunned among them.
  13. Ezekiel becomes a recluse and shuts himself off from he world in his house.  He also loses his ability to speak.  In the aftermath of major disasters, it is common for survivors to be at a loss for words and articulation of their experience.  Ezekiel behaves in strange ways, which might point to expression of shock, denial, and overwhelming grief.  

  14. (כו) וּלְשֽׁוֹנְךָ֙ אַדְבִּ֣יק אֶל־חִכֶּ֔ךָ וְנֶֽאֱלַ֔מְתָּ

    (26) And I will make your tongue cleave to your palate, and you shall be dumb;

  15. Judith Herman, a writer in the field of trauma and recovery, writes: "survivors of atrocity of every age and every culture come to a point in the testimony where all questions are reduced to one, spoken more in bewilderment than outrace: Why?  The answer is beyond human understanding."  Eicha, or Lamentations, begins with the howling question "how?!".  

    Lamentations lives in the wound of the present, absorbed in the intricate details of pain.  

  16. (א) אֵיכָ֣ה ׀ יָשְׁבָ֣ה בָדָ֗ד הָעִיר֙ רַבָּ֣תִי עָ֔ם הָיְתָ֖ה כְּאַלְמָנָ֑ה רַּבָּ֣תִי בַגּוֹיִ֗ם שָׂרָ֙תִי֙ בַּמְּדִינ֔וֹת הָיְתָ֖ה לָמַֽס׃ (ס)

    (1) How lonely sits the city Once great with people! She that was great among nations Is become like a widow; The princess among states Is become a thrall.

  17. Alan Mintz call the book of Lamentations a "house of sorrow" where tears flow safely, and we are allowed to feel the full catastrophe of our own heartache.  For those readers who have experienced trauma, the book becomes witness to the most senseless of human experiences, letting the reader know they are not alone.  

  18. (טז) עַל־אֵ֣לֶּה ׀ אֲנִ֣י בוֹכִיָּ֗ה עֵינִ֤י ׀ עֵינִי֙ יֹ֣רְדָה מַּ֔יִם כִּֽי־רָחַ֥ק מִמֶּ֛נִּי מְנַחֵ֖ם מֵשִׁ֣יב נַפְשִׁ֑י הָי֤וּ בָנַי֙ שֽׁוֹמֵמִ֔ים כִּ֥י גָבַ֖ר אוֹיֵֽב׃ (ס)

    (16) For these things do I weep, My eyes flow with tears: Far from me is any comforter Who might revive my spirit;

  19. In the middle of the first chapter of Lamentations a voice begins to speak in the first person.  This is significant, as we realize that until now Zion was described in third person, but now she begins to speak for herself in her own voice. 

  20. (יא) כָּל֨וּ בַדְּמָע֤וֹת עֵינַי֙ חֳמַרְמְר֣וּ מֵעַ֔י נִשְׁפַּ֤ךְ לָאָ֙רֶץ֙ כְּבֵדִ֔י עַל־שֶׁ֖בֶר בַּת־עַמִּ֑י בֵּֽעָטֵ֤ף עוֹלֵל֙ וְיוֹנֵ֔ק בִּרְחֹב֖וֹת קִרְיָֽה׃ (ס)
    (11) My eyes are spent with tears, My heart is in tumult, My being melts away Over the ruin of my poor people, As babes and sucklings languish In the squares of the city.
  21. Just like Job, who refuses to turn away from God, even when he is furious and in despair, Lamentations continues the conversation with God.  The flow of tears is imagery of cleansing and expression of grief.  These prayers attempt to awaken a slumbering God and budge the divine into action.  These laments bring human pain and suffering into language.  

  22. (יח) צָעַ֥ק לִבָּ֖ם אֶל־אֲדֹנָ֑י חוֹמַ֣ת בַּת־צִ֠יּוֹן הוֹרִ֨ידִי כַנַּ֤חַל דִּמְעָה֙ יוֹמָ֣ם וָלַ֔יְלָה אַֽל־תִּתְּנִ֤י פוּגַת֙ לָ֔ךְ אַל־תִּדֹּ֖ם בַּת־עֵינֵֽךְ׃ (ס) (יט) ק֣וּמִי ׀ רֹ֣נִּי בליל [בַלַּ֗יְלָה] לְרֹאשׁ֙ אַשְׁמֻר֔וֹת שִׁפְכִ֤י כַמַּ֙יִם֙ לִבֵּ֔ךְ נֹ֖כַח פְּנֵ֣י אֲדֹנָ֑י שְׂאִ֧י אֵלָ֣יו כַּפַּ֗יִךְ עַל־נֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ עֽוֹלָלַ֔יִךְ הָעֲטוּפִ֥ים בְּרָעָ֖ב בְּרֹ֥אשׁ כָּל־חוּצֽוֹת׃ (ס) 

    (18) Their heart cried out to the Lord. O wall of Fair Zion, Let tears run down like a river day and night! Give yourself no respite, Your eyes no rest. (19) Arise, cry out in the night At the beginning of the watches, Pour out your heart like water In the presence of the Lord! Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your infants, Who faint for hunger At every street corner.  

  23. One of the most disturbing images of starvation and the breakdown of the very foundation of civilization.  This type of image-creation is not for the faint of heart and makes me want to hold onto everything I love and protect it, savoring every precious moment of life.  

  24. (ט) טוֹבִ֤ים הָיוּ֙ חַלְלֵי־חֶ֔רֶב מֵֽחַלְלֵ֖י רָעָ֑ב שֶׁ֣הֵ֤ם יָז֙וּבוּ֙ מְדֻקָּרִ֔ים מִתְּנוּבֹ֖ת שָׂדָֽי׃ (ס) (י) יְדֵ֗י נָשִׁים֙ רַחֲמָ֣נִיּ֔וֹת בִּשְּׁל֖וּ יַלְדֵיהֶ֑ן הָי֤וּ לְבָרוֹת֙ לָ֔מוֹ בְּשֶׁ֖בֶר בַּת־עַמִּֽי׃ (ס)

    (9) Those who were slain with the sword are better than those who are slain with hunger; for these pine away, stricken by want of fruits in the field. (10) The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children, they were food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.

  25. This passage is the Haftorah for Parshat Noah.   Consolation in the aftermath of the flood. 

  26. (א) רָנִּ֥י עֲקָרָ֖ה לֹ֣א יָלָ֑דָה פִּצְחִ֨י רִנָּ֤ה וְצַהֲלִי֙ לֹא־חָ֔לָה כִּֽי־רַבִּ֧ים בְּֽנֵי־שׁוֹמֵמָ֛ה מִבְּנֵ֥י בְעוּלָ֖ה אָמַ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃ (ב) הַרְחִ֣יבִי ׀ מְק֣וֹם אָהֳלֵ֗ךְ וִירִיע֧וֹת מִשְׁכְּנוֹתַ֛יִךְ יַטּ֖וּ אַל־תַּחְשֹׂ֑כִי הַאֲרִ֙יכִי֙ מֵֽיתָרַ֔יִךְ וִיתֵדֹתַ֖יִךְ חַזֵּֽקִי׃ (ג)

    (1) Shout, O barren one, You who bore no child! Shout aloud for joy, You who did not travail! For the children of the wife forlorn Shall outnumber those of the espoused —said the LORD. (2) Enlarge the site of your tent, Extend the size of your dwelling, Do not stint! Lengthen the ropes, and drive the pegs firm.

  27. MLK’s I have a Dream speech was in part inspired by Second Isaiah, who has given us the language with which to challenge the meaninglessness of living in a world on fire. His words express hope beyond despair, beyond the absence of God, and beyond doubt. “Let every valley be raised, Every hill and mount made low. Let the rugged ground become level And the ridges become a plain.”

    Second Isaiah falls in the genre of Consolation (root n-h-m), comfort in the aftermath of disillusionment and disappointment.  From across a transcendental space, God's word breaks through to man, ending the silence. 

  28. (א) נַחֲמ֥וּ נַחֲמ֖וּ עַמִּ֑י יֹאמַ֖ר אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ (ב) דַּבְּר֞וּ עַל־לֵ֤ב יְרֽוּשָׁלִַ֙ם֙ וְקִרְא֣וּ אֵלֶ֔יהָ כִּ֤י מָֽלְאָה֙ צְבָאָ֔הּ כִּ֥י נִרְצָ֖ה עֲוֺנָ֑הּ כִּ֤י לָקְחָה֙ מִיַּ֣ד יְהוָ֔ה כִּפְלַ֖יִם בְּכָל־חַטֹּאתֶֽיהָ׃ (ס) (ג) ק֣וֹל קוֹרֵ֔א בַּמִּדְבָּ֕ר פַּנּ֖וּ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יְהוָ֑ה יַשְּׁרוּ֙ בָּעֲרָבָ֔ה מְסִלָּ֖ה לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ׃ (ד) כָּל־גֶּיא֙ יִנָּשֵׂ֔א וְכָל־הַ֥ר וְגִבְעָ֖ה יִשְׁפָּ֑לוּ וְהָיָ֤ה הֶֽעָקֹב֙ לְמִישׁ֔וֹר וְהָרְכָסִ֖ים לְבִקְעָֽה׃
    (1) Comfort, oh comfort My people, Says your God. (2) Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, And declare to her That her term of service is over, That her iniquity is expiated; For she has received at the hand of the LORD Double for all her sins. (3) A voice rings out: “Clear in the desert A road for the LORD! Level in the wilderness A highway for our God! (4) Let every valley be raised, Every hill and mount made low. Let the rugged ground become level And the ridges become a plain.
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