Chanukah and The Leftovers: Choose Life

Tuesday December 15 2020

I wake from a dream.  92-20 is all I remember.

I am short of breath. A panic. I drink the air deep deep and now the feeling goes away. Apnea? The feeling of death. The train whistle blows long and loud. The train horn. Four blasts.

92-20. The partial combination of a safe. The rest of the dream got left behind. This is all I get.

This show The Leftovers is getting to me. The premise is simple. Death is not a fact but a mystery. Poetically considered. A whole society built around the mystery of death. This was ancient Egypt.

Lately the phrase from Deuteronomy 30:19 –the passage read in the new year. Choose life. Is that the Hebrew answer to Egypt?

  In our society death is an obscenity. Everyone does it but no one is supposed to. Yesterday we crossed 300000 Covid deaths in this country. We aren’t feeling it. MSNBC tries to underline it. More deaths today than 9-11. My trainer is offended. Logically I don’t feel why. But he is and I am not. The truth is I don’t feel anything about it. Nothing in my day has changed. I’ve got my mask on yesterday I wore two to buy more chanukah candles at Dirty Gras. I passed by the Meyer lemon tree. Pick one. But I forgot again to light.

Shammai that old stickler said logically we should light eight candles then seven then six and so on. Since we are commemorating a light that slowly expired over eight days. But then the holiday would end in darkness on one of the darker days of the year. Hillel said the opposite one candle two three up to eight. We used to have chanukah parties on Pine street. Everyone would bring their chanukiah. Put them on silver foil on a table on the porch. Dozens singing the blessings. Nine candles blazing on dozens of chanukias. A great blaze.

In the world to come we will follow Shammai’s rule for we will be living in the light. But in this world we could not be happy with dwindling into darkness.

92-20. The score of a game I am losing.

 Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. So choose life, so that you may live, you and your offspring, Deuteronomy 30:19