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I wish I had wings

Take me away
From all that I see…

I wish I could fly

High above everything

Oh I, I wish I had wings

I'd dance with the angels

Cut through the clouds

Never look back

Never come down…

(Jackson Dean, Wings)

Once again, I am in the garden of enchantment. Two stone figures are playing their music, silently, one on the flute, the other on a tambourine. Even the echoes of their music seem to be muffled by sorrow and tragedy, their voices stilled now by months of silence. Of waiting, for a return to music, to joy, to a world of sanity and safety. Of waiting, for our deliverance from evil, for redemption. Their music has drifted away, born aloft by the winds, and although it is spring, refuses to return.

And yet, accompanying their silence, the voices of birds singing may be heard. And alongside the stillness of their presence, white butterfies may be seen, flitting about among the dark green foliage. As in a dream, I watch, enchanted by their soft motion. Seemingly departed, only to return in a surprising display of hopefulness before disappearing once again from view. In an uplifting display, flowers have burst forth in a profusion of color. For it is spring, and the garden is in bloom. Red tulips are proclaiming hope, white daisies add a touch of sanctity and purity to the red’s cheer.

It is the month of Adar, the month of rebirth, of hopefulness. And yet, a white cloud of disbelief lends an atmosphere of dreaminess, or is it disbelief, to the lovely scene. At once a part, at once distant from our world. At once providing hope, at once at odds with the troubled and tragic reality of life in the Land of Promise.

It is just past Purim. On this day the children dress up happily in costume, celebrate the destruction of Haman, the redemption of our people from a fate of destruction.

But, this year. Can we celebrate the redemption of our nation from an evil lot?

We don the mask of revelry. We hide the reality which is one of a mixture, of despair with hope, of darkness with light. Of pure evil with uncompromising good. We try to blanket the darkness of grief with the light of happiness. Cherish the simple giving of one heart to another, as symbolized by the gift of mishloach manot.

And yet. There is an all pervading feeling of dissonance and bewilderment. This year in particular, we are aware of the mask of our reality, the transience of life. Is this world but an illusion? Perhaps a mask of evil hides the goodness which is within. And a veil of darkness covers the world of Truth, of purity and goodness. For how else can we understand a world where darkness swirls with sunshine, and a whirlpool of agony threatens to overtake the dance of the sunbeams?

The children will try to blot out the name of Haman with groggers. The noise becomes louder. We hear the sound of explosions, and in the background, a great silence.

One day, we will no longer need to blot out the name of Haman with noise. One day, we will be able to listen to the silence, and hear within a still small voice.

“”…and a great strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind;

And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;

And after the fire a still small voice…”

(Elijah 1 Kings 19:12)

We call out, in our distress. At night, when all is still, echoes of the day’s turmoil permeate the skies, our prayers and cries reach the Throne of Heaven, and we ask, When? For how long?

A still small voice answers, in the silence…

The sky is darkening now. The clouds gloomy gray, rain is about to fall. In the distance I hear the sound of thunder, or it is the sound warplanes flying overhead.

But in the intermittent stillness one can also hear the sounds of our valor, of our resilience and faith, of our determination to live in spite. In spite of those who wish to see our destruction.

Once again, we await the outcome of a verdict. For the story of our people is one of salvation, and each holiday we commemorate once again, our destiny.

Perhaps as on Purim long ago, redemption will arrive, now.

We will soon read in the Torah portion:
“So says the Lord God: Not for your sake do I do this, O house of Israel, but for My Holy Name…And I will sanctify My great Name…and the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, the Lord, have built up the ruined places and have planted the desolate ones; I, the Lord have spoken, and I will perform” (Ezekiel 36: 21-36)

I watch as a black bird soars in flight. Dips down, to almost alight on the treetops, but having thought better of it, continues her upward flight.

“Oh, that I had the wings of a dove ! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm” (Psalms 55:6-8).

At the beginning of the month of Adar (Parshat Ki Tisa) we read of the half-shekel contribution to the building and maintenance of the Beit haMikdash.

“Let them each give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted…This they shall give…half a shekel according to the holy shekel” (Exodus 30:12-13)

In commemoration of the half-shekel given by Israel when the Beit haMikdash still stood, it is customary before Purim to donate money (three halves of the coins of local currency) to the poor.

In our world of imperfection, we can never make a contribution which is whole. And yet, it is enough for us to contribute a portion. Our half - the half of faith, of hope, of courage. Perhaps half for the present, half for the future. Half we contribute by our endeavors, the other half will be contributed by the endeavors of our children, our Hope for the Future. Half for this world, half for the World-to Come.

Perhaps a reminder, that wholeness is not yet present in our broken world. Life is comprised of both dark and light, despair and hope. Grief mixes with joy, tragedy with compassion. Our earthly efforts are but a partial contribution, but one day, our world of imperfection will be made whole.

As it is written, one day “shall the Lord be One and His name one” (Zechariah 14:9)

And until that day, until that time, what now?

Winds of desolation sweep by. The sound of the wind muffles the sound of children’s laughter and happy chatter. Do they know? Do they understand? Do I understand?
We look at the masks. Masks of gaiety, hiding gloom. Masks of steadfastness, hiding uncertainty. Masks of knowing, hiding the unknown.

This year in particular we are aware on Purim, that we were but donning a mask. And perhaps, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”(Shakespeare, As You Like It ) But, are we playing our part?

From somewhere within, we hear a call. A reminder, of the the transience of illusion, of the outer mask. Mirroring the transience of life itself. What is permanent is within. What is permanent is our belief, our strength, our faith.

“But those who hope in the Lord

Will renew their strength

They will soar on wings like eagles…”

(Isaiah 40:31)

The world of Truth is one of purity, of light, mirroring the Divine light encapsulated in the shell of our earthly woes. An inner voice speaks and reminds us. Within us is an inner fire, a spark of the Divine. The flame flickers and refuses to be extinguished.

A prayer, for our redemption.

For our lot to be cast, on this Purim, as on days-gone-by, for Good.