Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 44: Gevurah b’Malchut

Day 44: Gevurah b’Malchut
by Maggid David Arfa

Why did King David do it?  Was it pride or piety?  Arrogance or ignorance?  What possessed him to think he could dig a deep well under the temple, to the very center of the earth? Did he actually imagine THIS was the way to allow the ritual waters of Sukkot to flow and in turn bring fresh healing rains to the earth?  Self important Hubris! He had forgotten THE MYSTERY.

He dug and blindly removed the Eben Shetiyah- the Foundation Stone of the World. The waters of the deep surged upward – they were free. Instantly they rose and began flooding our world.

King David Shouted to the elders- “Help! What can we do?”

Terror reigned – a disaster of this magnitude has never occurred before.

“Answer me or we will all be lost!”

“We believe that parchment with the sacred 42 letter Name of the Holy One must be thrown into the well while simultaneously praying with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your might.  Only then will the waters of the deep return to their place, though we are not certain. This has never happened before.” (adapted from Makkot, 11a, and Patai, Man and Temple, 1947)

We cry out for the 7500 gallons of 4-methylclyclohexenemmethanol (MCHM) spilled into the Elk River poisoning all the Charleston West Virginia metropolitan area water supply.  The material safety data sheet for MCHM, though required by law to list impacts, is incomplete.  Effects of MCHM on humans are not known.  Ecological impacts have never been tested.  Gevurah b’Malchut

We shudder at the devastation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission reported that the accident was "a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented".  Hindering that process were a lack of regulations as well as "a collusion between the government, the [nuclear] regulators and [plant operator] Tepco and the lack of governance by said parties".  In clear language, the report said clearly that “nature” was NOT to blame.  Gevurah b’Malchut

We shiver at the sinking of the deep water horizon oil rig, leading to the largest oil spill in US history.   We grieve the choice to sacrifice the ocean to save the shore by adding 1.8 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit.  According to EPA data, Corexit is considered an acute health hazard and ranks far above dispersants made by competitors in toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in handling southern Louisiana crude.  Corexit has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1998. Gevurah b’Malchut

Our anger rises as we learn of Propublica’s report that BP has flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured or harassed employees not to report problems, and cut short or delayed inspections in order to reduce production costs. Executives were not held accountable for the failures, and some were promoted despite them.  BP neglected key equipment needed for emergency shutdown, including safety shutoff valves and gas and fire detectors similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf. Gevurah b’Malchut

Reflection/Action: They say that during the Roman persecutions, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son Elazer were forced to live in a cavernous cave.  A miraculous Carob tree grew and fed them, a fresh spring flowed and quenched their thirst.  They saved their clothes only for prayer and buried themselves in the ground without their clothes, up to their necks, like root vegetables stored for winter, studying, studying and studying.  Some say the Holy Zohar was the fruit of their studies.  When they finally emerged, they were so enraged at how the world did not live according to their visionary ideals, fire flew from their eyes burning crops as they walked.  A heavenly voice called, filled with grief, stopping them with the question, “Have you become destroyers of my world?”.  They were sent back into isolation for another year.  During that time, Reb Shimon learned to control his fiery anger, though not his son Elazer.  The path of transformation for Elazer was writing lamentations, and in this way, his tears quenched his fire.   (adapted from Shabbat 33b and Reb ‘Art Scroll’ [for Tisha B’av])

If you were to write a lamentation for our world, where would you begin? Would you share your sentence here? You can read my lamentation for the terrifying oil well blowout deep in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 by writing to me with gulf oil lament in the subject line.

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