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Alienation & Exodus

Alienation & Exodus

by Harry Marcell

Three things our Father Abraham was told would befall his children. 
On that night of terror and thick darkness,
Of the fiery torch and smoking furnace, he was told.
“How shall I know that I shall inherit it?” he asked.
“You shall know, you shall know,” came the answer, reverberating
through the darkened world. “Because your seed shall be aliens
in an alien land, enslaved, tortured…for four hundred years.”
Alienation…enslavement…suffering…gerut, avdut, innui….
Is there a way out? Do Pesach, matzah, maror hold the key?

Four thousand years pass. Exiles, dispersions come and go…
Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome, Spain, Germany…
The fiery torch, the smoking furnace…Russia…America…Israel…
Aliens in an alien land…The alienated Jew. The non-Jewish Jew.
Alienated from his people, from his past, from his future. Alienated from his culture.
A culture of non-Jewish Jews.
Try a kibbutz. Is picking cotton Jewish? Is it Jewish cotton? Is it Jewish land?
I don’t know. Maybe the Arabs were here longer. Are we racists? Who knows?
IS it that a lot of Jews live here together? There are places aplenty 
Outside Israel where this holds true. Does that make it Jewish land?
Try the city. Dizengoff. Steak-bar. Bright lights. Drugstore. Drug pusher.
Protection racket. Gang war. Sex store.
You like, mister? Just like America, no?
Just like America. Almost just like America.
Then what the hell kind of fool am I to come here for?
For a bad imitation when I can get the real thing at home? If I want it.
But do I want it?
Who am I?
Where do I belong?
Here we go again…Alienation…An alien in an alien land.
Oh please please whoever you are please show me a home…

A slave of the technological society.
Capitalist, Marxist, what’s the difference?
What am I? They tell me I’m animal. The top of the evolutionary tree.
Or an over-developed, top-heavy, evolutionary misfit.
Who knows?
But that’s all a lot of junk. I’m much much less than an animal.
Computerised, automised, atomised, numeralised, mechanised.
I’m a cybernetic servo mechanism. A feedback device. Devised by
Whom? For what? Feed and feedback. Feedback and feed. Stimulus 
and response. Rats in the maze. Rats in the rat-race. Conditioning.
Manipulation. Subliminal advertising. Consumer-response-mechanism.
Programmed enslaved. Trapped in the consumption/production syndrome.
Things. Things. Gadgets. Circuitry. Drowned in things. Swamped by things. Things
Are the measure of all man. No time of my own. No space of my own. No my own.
A slave owns nothing. Not even himself. Above all not himself.
O God, tell me where is my self?

Torture. Pain in the midst of
Pleasure. Misery in the midst of
Affluence. The worm of the heart. The cancer in the bone. Worthlessness.
SO what’s the use? What’s it all for anyway?
The nagging hurt. The nothingness at the heart of existence. Nothing hurts
Like nothing. We go through the motions of pleasure but…Nothing
Means anything anymore. This is the worst wound of all.
So why not get it over with? How long O Lord how long?

Alien Jew, you wanted a home? You have a home. Its name is Pesach. Pesach is a holiday. It is also a family. It belongs together.
Its symbol is a lamb. A lamb belongs to a flock. It knows where it belongs.
It knows its shepherd.
Pesach is a seder table. The food, the wine, the symbols. The bright-eyed, eager children.
The white-clad father, the quiet and gracious mother. The people’s first altar, in alien Egypt, was the inside of a home. The door-post and the lintel, brushed by the angel’s wings.
Pesach means the Jewish people are a family.
A family means a shared experience, a sense of continuity, a protecting presence. 
Or is it a protecting Presence?
Who knows? All I know is that here is where I feel at home.
Maybe Jung was right about racial consciousness. Or maybe it’s the Jewish soul
The Hasidim love to talk about. I don’t know. And I don’t care very much. All I know is I’ve come home.
Pesach. The family feels the Presence, acknowledges the Presence. The familoy
Sacrifice, the family’s act of service. The family’s bond.
Home means whatever you may have done there is always an open door. Home is where
You are accepted as one of the family. Home is where you belong. Where you are no longer an alien. This is your country, this is your home. This is where you were heading for all the time.
Without knowing it.
Pesach is home.

Listen, slave. There is a haven of freedom. Its symbol is matzah.
Matzah? What is this brittle bread with the flavor all its own? Brown and white,
crisp and hard, serrated rows of pinhead holes…What is this matzah?
Matzah is the taste of freedom. Bread of speed, bread of haste, bread of yeastless dough. Flour and water. Nothing else. Simple. Uncomplicated. Needs no outside help.
No time for floating yeast spore to ferment, aerate.
Simple. Independent. Finding its strength within itself.
Inner strength. This is freedom.
Slave of technosociety, the taste of matzah is freedom. Be in the technoworld, but not of it.
Don’t let its yeast spores enter your heart. The pesach family eats matzah bread, declaring its independence of the powerful, pitiful pride-puffed, puny yeast culture of the technocrats.
Defiant as always.
Rebels against the crowd.
Four thousand years of rebellion.
Matzah sounds the doom of slavery. It heralds the victory of inner freedom.

Maror. The herbs of bitterness. But is lettuce really bitter? They say it’s bitter to start with but improves with age. Is horseradish really bitter? Sharp perhaps; shockingly sharp; but bitter? With the matzah of freedom comes the bittersweet battle for the re-found self.
Remember the empty misery of the unfound, despaired-of self? Forget it! We have found ourself.
Pesach gives us our home. Matzah our freedom. Maror the growing-pains of the new-found self. The bittersweet battle. The muscle-stretch of spiritual growth.
Exchange the foul, poisonous bitterness of life without meaning for the refreshing bitter tang of the challenge of self-renewal. Maror says: Don’t think it’s easy.
Realising self needs effort. And effort is pain. But not like that other pain, the misery of nothingness. 
This pain is a welcome pain; the pain of all new growth.
“Whoever has not said these three things on the Passover night has not filled the commandment. What three things? Pesach, matzah and maror.

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