Wise Men

Some years ago I was in Mexico on January 6, and was surprised to find they observe Epiphany, the day of the arrival of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East, as the last day of Christmas. I can’t think of any Magi wisdom just off the top of my head, so here is some Northern wisdom from a Canadian, Leonard Cohen, from his Tel Aviv concert right before he gave the Priestly Blessing:

I want to draw our respectful attention once again to the Israeli and Palestinian members of the Bereaved Parents for Peace and those other men and women, some of whom have called naive, foolish, irrelevant, defeatist, but no, no, not at all friends. They have..they have achieved the victory, perhaps the only victory available, the victory of the heart, over its own inclinations for despair, revenge, and hatred.

In trying to find a video with better audio quality, I came across this, apparently also from the Tel Aviv concert, that brought tears to my eyes.

It was a while ago that I first heard of the work of the Bereaved Parents for Peace, that there was this coalition of Palestinian and Israeli families who had lost so much in the conflict, and whose depth of suffering had compelled them to reach across the border into the houses of the enemy, into the houses of those,  to locate them who had suffered as much as they had, and then to stand with them in aching confraternity, a witness to an understanding that is beyond peace, and that is beyond confrontation.  So (prolonged applause)  This is not about forgiving and forgetting, this is not about laying down ones arms  in a time of war, this is not even about peace, although God willing, it could be a beginning. (scattered applause) This is about a response to human grief, a radical, unique, and holy, holy, holy response to human suffering baruch hashem (?)*** (applause) And I, I bow my head in respect to the nobility of this enterprise. (applause) So ring the bells that still can ring (cheers and applause), forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

When I taught in Jordan I had the experience of having one of my students, a member of the Islamic Brotherhood, shove a photo of a dead baby under my nose. Other Americans had similar experiences.  The Israelis don’t release photos of their own dead, believing they will be used for  celebratory propaganda. But what a way to keep a ruling cabal in power.  Just keep a low level warfare in operation for continued casualties and play on the resulting hatred. Of course, once dead babies have become an effective  tool of war and a commodity, new ways of manufacturing dead babies will have to be found and new wars started…

…unless someone can short-circuit the madness of using the dead as propaganda tools by using them instead as tools of humanization, healing, and reconciliation. That’s how the light gets in, indeed.

*** a commenter at 1heckofaguy.com has identified this as Baruch HaShem, in this situation meaning something like “with the help of God”. In Hebrew the common greeting meaning “what’s new?” is “Mah nishma?” and the formula answer is “Baruch Hashem” ברוך השם — Thank God, or “Blessed be G_D” . Wiktionary says “Baruch Hashem” is “Blessed be the Name (of the Lord)”.
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