Next month many of my colleagues and I will be gathering in a hotel outside of Boulder, Colorado for Ohalla, what my wife Renée calls a "rabbinic convention for unconventional rabbis". Years ago at the Tuesday night cabaret I, along with three others I will refer to as my "crew", perfomed a rap about Shabbat. Reb Zalman sat watching, totally perplexed, and at one point during the rap I jokingly feared for my future, saying, "I can see my teudah (ordination document) going up in flames as I speak."
Lucky for me, Reb Zalman liked my davvening and storytelling!
If you like the rap and you'd like a copy, it's available on iTunes for 99 cents. What a deal! Lyrics below. Enjoy!
Let me tell you a story about days of old
When the nights were long and the days were cold
Alexander the Great was the king you see
Of the land of Judea where the Jews were free
To live and worship the only God
Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Echad
Now Alexander the Great despite his royal fame
Grew old and died, ending his reign
A new king arrived upon the scene
A real pain in the tuchus, if you know what I mean
He gathered together all of the Jews and said
“Listen closely ‘cause I got bad news.”
Now this King Antiochus, he thought he was wise
He said, “You can’t observe Shabbat or be circumcised
You have to pray to great Greek Gods Israel
And sacrifice pigs - they squeal!”
Bow down to idols of stone indeed
That’s not being Jewish it’s plain to see
But many Jews were afraid to disobey the king’s order
They’d be put to death like a lamb to the slaughter
There was a righteous man in Modin town named
Mattathias, he refused to bow down
he smashed the idols, cried passionately
“Whoever’s for the Lord our God follow me!”
If you’re a Macabee then your’re a hammer...
I know you know what happens next in the story
there are armies and fighting and it gets kind of gory
Antiuchus’ army gets cut down to size
By Judah and the Maccabbees, the good guys!
Then there’s the cleansing of the temple and the search for oil
For the ner tamid, would triumph be spoiled?
Of oil they could only find one jar
They looked here, there, near, and far.
It’s a solid fact, a moment of mystery
Nes, Gadol, Haya, Sham - that’s history.
One last point for your edification
Hanukkah’s the time for your rededication
Be a modern Maccabbee - stand tall
And hammer a world of peace and justice for all.