selkie: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] selkie at 11:36am on 25/09/2012

How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,

Who shall live and who shall die,

Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not...


The wrong people die. It's always the wrong person who dies. When I get to that line in the unetaneh tokef, I think of my brother-in-law (the one I never met); I think of how immeasurably angry I would be, if I were my wife. If they were his days -- if they were ascribed and assigned to him -- why wouldn't he be allowed to reach the end of them? We're playing semantics with God now? They were his days. Shouldn't he still be in them?

Meanwhile, the neighbor who torments his wife and son, who is drunk, lecherous, and vaguely criminal, shambles home from the 7-11 and peels the cellophane off a pack of cigarettes even though they couldn't afford heat last winter (and this winter's looking pretty much the same). He lives. He gets to live.

I know there are holy uses for anger, just as there is transcendence in standing around all day being voluntarily hungry because it is our luxury and birthright to spend tomorrow hungry. (I am pretty sure if a horse had dropped dead in front of me in the ghetto on Yom Kippur, I would have given the fasting thing a big middle finger and whipped out the hibachi. Pikuach nefesh, don't you know.)

My observance, in my adult life, has been a combination of fraught and rote. I go to services because I do. I say the words because I know them. I usually feel genuine sadness -- repentance? -- during the vidui. This year, all I've got is anger, and that on my wife's behalf. Life is so weird.

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