Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Power of Memory (8th Day of Pesach)

Listen up, can you hear the song of our history
The poetry the mystery the symphony is filling me
To the point of overflowing intensity
Incredibly the remedy for entropy is memory

Ten days ago, Jewish teacher and hip-hop artist Eden Pearlstein—aka Eprhyme—shared these words with us in his extraordinary rap rendition of the week’s haftarah portion.  Throughout this Pesach holiday, I have continued to reflect on his teaching, especially his observation in the last line:  “the remedy for entropy is memory.”

Entropy is, sadly, a fact of life.  Things—and lives and relationships—fall apart.  It takes a lot of love and labor and energy to sustain goodness and blessing in our world.  Death and loss are inevitable parts of even the best-lived lives.

But memories of liberation and celebration, of times and people and places that we cherish can help to carry us through our dark, dry seasons.  When we find ourselves in narrow places, we can recall previous passages out of these “Egypts” and renew our hope that we will move, again, toward promised lands.  And when we despair of our ability to make a difference in healing the brokenness that so often shatters both our personal lives and the wider culture, we can remember the kind, righteous, and inspiring friends and loved ones who did bring that kind of healing, and take sustenance in their examples.

This coming Shabbat is also the eighth and final day of Pesach—and thus one of four days that our tradition designates (along with Yom Kippur and the last days of Sukkot and Shavuot)  for a special Yizkor service, in which we honor our beloved ones who have died. This week, as you celebrate Passover, make an effort to remember your special times, places, and people—and in so doing, affirm that the remedy for entropy really is memory.