Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The sudanese children in Cairo

Dear Friends,
We are all watching the news of the crowds of Egypt’s uprising or, some say, revolution. I came across a poem that I wrote five years ago when the Egyptian government was dealing with thousands of Sudanese refugees living in the parks and square of Cairo. Eventually the Egyptian authorities put them, despite their appeal for mercy, onto buses and shipped them back to the Sudan. Many of them were refugees and fearful for their lives.  So this situation in Egypt reminded me of Sudanese people’s aspirations for freedom. I would like to share this poem because the bottom line is that people’s lives are on the line. The voice of the people, be it Egyptian, Sudanese, Tunisian, Iranian and any other people’s cry for democracy and basic human rights, must be heard. I pray that God’s will to provide a peaceful resolution to this crisis will inspire the people in the streets and those in the government and the military as well.

Sudanese Children in Cairo
Black fists
Outstretched arms
Bare chests
Mother’s breasts
Children’s hearts
Old men’s bones
Defy life’s illusions
And the drumbeaters
Flying in desert winds
Sweeping and twisting limbs
And the stickmen who beat
The breath out of black skin.

Sudanese children sleep
Faces buried in the mud
Holding birthday candles
A doll
A baby’s blanket
And a suitcase.
As wild dogs howl amidst the cries and screams
Echoing in a Cairo park.

Slabs of human flesh
Heaped onto buses
Perspiration indistinguishable
From a plague of heartbreak
Infecting the breathing corpses
Transported to camps
As angels on high immune
To the black exhaust
Rising to the sky
From the exile below
While the righteous wait
Sheltered in armbands
And ID cards
Who shut their eyes
As the storm passes.

Silent tears lost I the desert
Anger executed
And death is the last rite
Wearing a headdress
Of royalty in the tribe
From the land of their fathers
Whose flute sings freedom’s
Song in a city park’s
Grave to the living dead
That tells tales of martyrdom
And God alone cried above the moonlight.

1 comment:

Rabbi Arthur Segal said...

Shalom Shalom chaverli r'Brad:
What wondrous poetry!!
What strong invoked imagry!!
I loved your ending of God crying along with us when humans treat others horridly.

How do we know God cries or suffers? Because man, who was made in His image, cries and suffers. Why does mankind suffer? Is it divine payback for our sins as the Torah and Hebraism teaches? I think not.

The Kabbalah's Zohar gives a much different answer. Mankind suffers because God suffers. It is not mankind that suffers but God. The suffering we feel is not our suffering but God's suffering experience through us as if it were our own. Therefore, the Kabbalah teaches, before we can liberate ourselves from suffering, we most first liberate God from His suffering.

"From what does God suffer?" the rabbis ask. God suffers from His exile from Himself. He suffers the separation in His Name--the "YH" divided from the "VH"-- that took place when He created the world. He suffers to return to the Unity--the wholeness in Himself-- that was shattered and husked over when He created the world. Therefore God suffers and man is commissioned to redeem Him from His suffering by returning Him to His former state of unity. This is what the Kabbalists say we mean when we say in the Aleinu adoration prayer "On that day God shall be One and His name One"(Psalm 22:29).

The rabbis then ask "How can we liberate God from His suffering? How can we return Him to Himself?" The answer is that we must be watchful and alert all the time for God. We need to listen for God's voice "I am listening. What is God saying?"(Psalm 85:8). Then we must speak the words that we hear God tell us and follow them. To quote the Ba'al Shem Tov : " The Holy sparks that fell from Himself when God built and destroyed worlds, man shall raise and purify back to their source.''

Only humankind can leads it our world to freedom, and no ''setting free of captives'' is greater than this. Every time we do an act of kindness we release these Holy Sparks. Conversely God forbid, every time we are not kind to another, we keep a spark husked, and hurt God as well as help in destroying the world. Love will release God from His suffering and He , in turn, will 'fill your mouths with laughter and your lips with song'(Psalm 126:2)."

This loving of all is the Kabbalistic concept of Tikun Olam, repair of the world, which is a credo of the modern Jewish movements.

Keep up with the poetry!! You said volumns with few well chosen words!
Rabbi Arthur Segal