Friday, February 22, 2008

Ki Tisa -- High (In)Fidelity

This was first performed for 200 people at a Statewide Shabbat at NC Hillel, and caught the attention of a Rabbi who said it would really benefit bar mitzvah students if I did this for every portion in the Five Books, which indirectly led to the foundation of this site. Crazy. Also, I spit it at the "Twelve Tribes" Open Mic at National Poetry Slam 2007, where it went over like gangbusters. Enjoy.

All I ask is your attention as I command it,
Use spoken word and put pen to page
To outline for y'all a critical stage
In Jewish history and I won't be vague

I'll unravel the mystery locked in the Parsha
This week, Ki Tisa relates the state of Jews at Sinai
Who got confused when they looked at the sky
And could not comprehend what they could not see
So they committed an act of infidelity
And created a calf that repped visibly
A notion of God they could understand
And they did all of this
under Aaron's command

Because he conciliated while Moses terminated
Said, "I'll be back"
and 40 days deliberated in a conversation with God
who at the end said something odd:
He saw the calf, said, "You don't know the half
Of what your people are doing at the foot of the path.
They're really not fooling me with their charade.
I'm 'bout to regulate
cuz I just got played."

Moses said, "Hold up ...

It ain't the right thing to do
You love these people try not to undo
The work of the Exodus and give rise to
Undue attitudes about a God who rescued his people only to off 'em
And turned the whole desert into one sandy coffin."

So Moses bounced — to see for himself
What his people had done with their material wealth.
He got so mad he shattered the tablets
Ground up the calf and let all of them have it
Aaron got frantic and tried to lie his way out
By telling Moses the calf came about all on its own
But Moses saw through that, knew he should atone
For the sins of the people who should turn to stone
Like Lot's wife -- the REEE-MIIIX!!
And the Levites believed it
So they stepped forward toward God
And had to carry out a terrible job
See, 3,000 people lost their lives that day
Because they almost undermined the whole Jewish faith

And lessons were learned by all parties involved:
The people needed to see that all idols aren't God
And the man upstairs needed to be fair
And not expect people to believe in the air

So stop ...

... and take a look at what surrounds you at the moment
And don't just do it now, do it any time you can control it
Every person and thing, please try to own it
Because God's in all of that
now take that thought and hone it into tangible form
So you don't have to dance by a calf to keep warm.

Become a Fan on Facebook.
Save to

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Leaping Into February and March

Doc Driedel thought it might be a good idea to widen the audience of my (roughly) monthly calls for contributors beyond the scope of the e-mail list. Check below for the info, and email me if you're interested.

Since my job has been whupping my butt for the better part of three weeks -- including swallowing this whole weekend -- you got two whole weeks with 100 percent less harassment. Here's what's been going on at the Hole:
  • We were linked by the Union for Reform Judaism's Shabbat Blog, which recommended us as one of three sites to visit "to fulfill the mitzvah of Talmud Torah, the study of Torah." You are not writing in a vacuum -- people are reading; we average more than 70 hits per week, have 7 feed subscriptions and 17 fans on Facebook.
  • We took our first guest post from a board-certified Rabbi. (Thanks, "Rabbi V"!)
  • We caught knowledge from repeat contributors "Dropping the Baum," "Dr. Driedel," "Flower," "The Tar Heeb" and also yer favorite Brooklyn Boy. The "Baum Drop" analyzed Moses' demand that Pharoah "Let My People Bo." The Tar Heeb wondered about "The World Without Us," while Flower took a look at "The Laws of Love," and I decided Moses and Aaron originated the roles MJ and Scottie Pippen would fill many thousands of years later.

    But a special shout out goes to the good doctor, whose search for "The Leaders in Our Lives" took us through a brave, thoughtful tribute to a friend whose journey ended too early. Thanks for sharing, good sir.

    That post accomplishes everything we strive for here at the Hole, and proves that the text is merely a jumping off point for larger issues -- not something those of you on the fence should worry about being bogged down by should you choose to contribute.
  • Also, we missed a week because a writer dropped out late and I was too pre-occupied to cover. We've done a great job getting up one post nearly every week since our relaunch in October -- Yeah, it's like that. Seriously stellar job. All of you. -- but this is why I'd like to get to a point where there's more than one post per portion.Again, it's a numbers game. One contribution from every person means no one writes more than once every two months or so.

    I don't want to lose the momentum we've built. We've got something unique here, one that fills an unaccounted-for niche. Let's make the magic happen.
  • One great idea from my buddy Johnny Poo was the posting of bar/bat mitzvah speeches when the respective portion comes up. If you can turn yours up, that would be an easy way to get involved. Remember, the alias system is there not only to free you from expectations, but also save you from potential embarrassment. And believe you me, I have been looking for mine since he floated the idea. Luckily, I've got until Deuteronomy, ha.
Here's the upcoming schedule:


Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35; Deadline: Feb. 20)
--Me, with a spoken word joint about the Golden Calf
NOTE: Ten Commandments also covered here, if anyone wants to tackle that last second, ha.

Vayakehl (Ex. 35:1-38:20; Deadline: Feb. 27)
Community donation of materials, and construction of the Holy Tabernacle and related furnishings


Pekudei (Ex. 38:21–40:38; Deadline: March 5)
Creation of the Priestly Vestements, the blessing of new priests and the Jews set off on their

Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1–5:26; Deadline: March 12)
Rules for acceptable offerings and how to absolve sins (Don't stop snitching!)

Tzav (Lev. 6:1–8:36; Deadline: March 19)
Rituals for offerings, commandment against eating animal fat, consecration of the Tabernacle and the priests

Shimini (Lev. 9:1–11:47; Deadline: March 26)
Sacrifice on behalf of the people, the rebellion of Aaron's sons, the rules of Kashrut (Kosher law)


Tazria (Lev. 12:1–13:59; Deadline: Apr. 2)
Purification rituals and how to deal with medical afflictions

Become a Fan on Facebook.
Save to