Va'era

"Avatar," Exodus, & Kabbalah

The film AVATAR weaves together what we usually call the spiritual and the political. Indeed, whether its director realized it consciously or not, AVATAR echoes two major strands of religious wisdom that began in Jewish thought but have had deep influence on cultures far beyond the boundaries of Jewish peoplehood. The two strands of ancient wisdom are "archetypal" -- that is, they appear over and over again in human thought because they arise in human experience and yearning -- with or without conscious transmission of the stories.

PESACH: REBIRTHING THE EARTH, THE PEOPLE, & FREEDOM

[This is a thoroughly revised version of Chapter 9 of my book Seasons of Our Joy, originally published in 1982 and most recently published in 1990 by Beacon Press.
[In the years since, the book has often been called a classic. Readers -- both Jews and others -- tell me its approach to the history, the spiritual meaning, and the actual practice of the festivals remains very helpful to them.

Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart -- and Does it Still?

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Perhaps the greatest archetypal tale in all of human culture about addiction to top-down, unaccountable power -- and the path it shapes to self-destruction -- is the story of Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus.

We have seen, are still seeing, this tale lived out before our own eyes. For eight years, the government of the United States became so addicted to its own power, so swept away by its own arrogance, that it played out the tale of Pharaoh and brought disasters on the very country that it claimed to lead, as well as on the wider world.

Even though the US government has begun to change, there are still Pharaohs blocking the way to a "promised land" of justice and sustainability, a rhythmic sharing of the earth's abundance with each other -- "adam" and "adamah" -- all earthy-humankind and all the living, breathing beings of the earth. . What can we learn from the ancient story to guide our steps today to do that sharing?

George Bush, the Burning Bush, Pharaoh, & Seeds of Change

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Perhaps the greatest archetypal tale in all of human culture about addiction to top-down, unaccountable power is the story of Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus.

Now, today, we are seeing this tale lived out before our own eyes. The present government of the United States has become so addicted to its own power, so swept away by its own arrogance, that it is playing out the tale of Pharaoh.

And the US government is not alone: the present government of Iran is talking like Pharaoh; Al Qaeda acts like a mini-Pharaoh.

Pharaoh begins by hardening his own heart to the plight of the poor and powerless, and after a series of disasters (the "plagues") brought on by his own arrogance, his addiction takes over.

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