Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 32 Comments

Editor’s Note: Below is an exclusive excerpt from Rabbi Brant Rosen’s new book Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity. I had the honor or writing the forward for the book and can’t recommend it highly enough. For those in the Chicagoland area, Rosen will be speaking Thursday, September 6th about the book at 7:00 pm. – Adam Horowitz

***

Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.

—Genesis 32:25

Wrestling front cover

This well-known Biblical episode leaves behind tantalizing questions. Who is the mysterious “man” with whom Jacob wrestles? What is his identity, and where did he come from? One popular interpretation suggests that the night stranger with whom Jacob struggles at this critical moment is none other than Jacob himself—perhaps his alter ego or his shadow self.

But why must the wrestling match necessarily take place at night? Why does the night stranger say so desperately to Jacob in the next verse, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking?” Perhaps this detail is teaching us that our deepest struggles invariably occur in the most private of places. After all, whenever we publicly wrestle with our deepest dilemmas, doubts, or fears, we take a very real risk. That’s why we tend to engage in our most challenging struggles internally—“in the dead of night.”
This book is, among other things, a record of the moment I personally began to wrestle in the daylight. It documents a two-year period during which I publicly struggled, as a congregational rabbi, with one of the most difficult and painfully divisive issues facing the American Jewish community.

* * *

I’ve identified deeply with Israel for most of my life. I first visited at a very young age and have been back to visit more times than I can even count. In my early twenties, I spent two years there studying, working, and living on kibbutzim. I have family members and many dear friends who live in Israel. My Jewish identity has been profoundly informed by the classic Zionist narrative: the story of a small underdog nation forging a national and cultural rebirth out of the ashes of its near-destruction. The redemptive nature of this narrative has at times assumed a quasi-sacred status for me, as it has for many American Jews of my generation and older.

Politically speaking, I’ve identified with what tends to be referred to today as “liberal Zionism.” I’ve long been inspired by Israel’s Labor Zionist origins, and I’ve generally aligned myself with positions advocated by the Israeli left and the Israeli peace movement. When it came to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, I’d invariably intone a familiar refrain of liberal Zionists: “It’s complicated.”

If I found myself occasionally troubled by ill-advised or even unjust Israeli policies, I tended to view them as “blemishes” on an otherwise stable democracy and a noble national project. At the end of the day, I understood the essence of this conflict to be a clash between two national movements, each with compelling and valid claims to the same small piece of land. In the end, the only viable, equitable solution would be its division into two states for two peoples.

Over the years, however, I confess, I struggled with nagging, gnawing doubts over the tenets of this liberal Zionist narrative. Although I was able to keep these doubts at bay—for the most part—I was never able to successfully silence them. I experienced the earliest of these doubting voices when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, unleashing a shocking degree of military firepower that shook my naive “David vs. Goliath” assumptions to their core. Several years later, the voices grew even louder as I witnessed the brutality with which Israel put down the nonviolent Palestinian demonstrations of the First Intifada. And they grew more insistent still when I began to witness firsthand the darker truths of Israel’s oppressive occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Truth be told, however, if I was troubled by these things, it was less out of concern for the well-being or safety of Palestinians per se than it was the tribal notion that the occupation was “corrupting Israel’s soul” and endangering Israel’s future existence as a “Jewish and democratic state.” Like many liberal Zionists, I dealt with such concerns by retreating to the safety of political pedagogy: These troubling realities simply proved to us all the more that we needed to redouble our efforts toward the peace process and an eventual two-state solution.

When I was ordained as a rabbi in 1992, the stakes were raised on my political views—particularly when it came to Israel/Palestine. Given the ideological centrality of Zionism in the American Jewish community, my inner conflicts over Israel’s oppressive treatment of Palestinians now carried very real professional consequences. Rabbis and Jewish leaders are under tremendous pressure by the American Jewish organizational establishment to maintain unflagging support for the state of Israel. Congregational rabbis in particular take a very real professional risk when they criticize Israel publicly. To actually stand in solidarity with Palestinians would be tantamount to communal heresy.

Shortly after I was ordained, I began reading the newly published English translations of Israel’s “New Historians”—important scholars, such as Benny Morris, Tom Segev, Avi Shalim, and Ilan Pappe—who exposed the darker truths about the establishment of the Jewish state and the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem. These books had a powerful, even radicalizing, impact upon me. I became increasingly struck by the sheer injustice that accompanied Israel’s birth, an injustice that was not only historical but, as I was coming to believe, still very much present and ongoing.

From here, I began to entertain difficult questions about the ethnic nationalism at the heart of Zionism—and became more and more troubled that Israel’s identity as a Jewish state was entirely dependent upon the maintenance of a Jewish majority within its borders. In the United States, the very suggestion of a “demographic time bomb” (an oft-used term used by liberal Zionists to advocate the critical importance of a two-state solution) would be considered incorrigibly racist. In my more unguarded moments, I’d ask myself: Why, then, do we bandy this concept about so freely when it pertains to the Jewish state?

Despite the questions, I nevertheless found a safe and comfortable home in liberal Zionism for the first decade of my rabbinate, affiliating with such organizations as Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, and J Street. All the while, the gnawing voices continued. Although I shared the elation of many at the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, my optimism was short-lived. In due time, Israel expanded its settlement regime over the Palestinian territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, and the Clinton-brokered peace talks at Camp David crashed and burned.

When the horrors of the Second Intifada began in the fall of 2000, I dealt with my anguish through a carefully cultivated avoidance of the Israel/Palestine issue. Whenever I addressed the subject in writings or sermons, it was usually with a vague but essentially substance-free plea for “peace and coexistence” on both sides. I would mourn the loss of life for both peoples and advocate redoubling our efforts at a peace process I increasingly feared was empty at the core.

Israel’s second military campaign in Lebanon during the summer of 2006 jolted me temporarily out of my avoidance. As I read and watched another military bombardment of Beirut—and my e-mail inbox filled up with Jewish Federation blasts exhorting me to support the Israel Emergency Campaign—I was deeply saddened that my community showed precious little concern about the sheer magnitude of the violence Israel was unleashing yet again against the people of Lebanon. Although I certainly felt compassion for—along with a certain tribal solidarity with—the citizens of Northern Israel suffering under Hezbollah rocket fire, I was unable to accept the utter destruction the IDF was inflicting upon Lebanon in the name of national security. Still, I kept my silence. The pressure to present a united Jewish communal front during a time of war still trumped my own inner struggle.

In October 2006, I started a keeping a blog I called Shalom Rav. (The title is a pun: Shalom rav, or “abundant peace,” is the name of a well-known Jewish prayer—but the Hebrew can also be taken to mean “hello, Rabbi.”) At the time, my intention was simply to hold forth on anything or everything I thought to be worthy of sharing over the blogosphere. As a congregational rabbi serving in Evanston, Illinois, I also thought it would be an effective way for my congregants to hear more regularly from their rabbi.

Because social action had always played an important role in my rabbinate, I intended to devote a significant percentage of my blog posts to current issues of social justice and human rights. As a result, a reader perusing Shalom Rav in those early years could read my thoughts on subjects as wide-ranging and diverse as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fair-trade coffee, torture at Guantánamo, poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, and human rights in Darfur.
Soon, however, the focus of my blog changed dramatically.

* * *
On December 28, 2008, I read the first news report of Israel’s military assault on Gaza—a campaign that would soon be well-known as Operation Cast Lead. On the first day of operations, the Israeli Air Force destroyed Hamas security facilities in Gaza, killing more than 225 people, most of whom were new police cadets participating in a graduation ceremony. Numerous civilians, including children, were also among the dead. By the end of the day, it was clear we were only witnessing the beginning of a much longer and even more violent military campaign that would drive much farther into Gaza.

I remember reading this news with utter anguish. At the same, oddly enough, I realized that I was finally observing this issue with something approaching true clarity: This is not about security at all—this is about bringing the Palestinian people to their knees.

Once I admitted this to myself, I realized how utterly tired I had become. Tired of trying to excuse the inexcusable. Tired of using torturous, exhausting rationalizations to explain away what I really knew in my heart was sheer and simple oppression.

After staring at my screen for what seemed like an eternity, I logged on to my blog and typed out a post entitled “Outrage in Gaza: No More Apologies.” I ended with a declaration—and a question:

What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.

There, I’ve said it. Now what do I do?

Although it was a simple and not particularly eloquent post, I knew full well what it would mean when I clicked “publish.” It represented a very conscious and public break from the liberal Zionist fold that had been my spiritual and political home for almost my entire life. But although I was finally very clear about what I was leaving behind, I was not at all sure about where I now belonged. Hence the final line of my post: Now what do I do?

Although I expected my words to make waves, I was still astonished by what happened next: The post immediately went viral, eliciting 125 comments in less than a month—far more than I have ever received before or since. Although some of the initial commenters were congregants, I ultimately received responses from all over the world. Predictably, some lashed out against my post, but as the comments continued to roll in, I was surprised to read the words of many more—congregants, Jews, and non-Jews alike—expressing their immense thanks for what I had written. The comment thread was peppered with a palpable sense of gratitude and relief that a Jewish leader—a rabbi, no less—had finally crossed a significant line so publicly.

My post was not, as many assumed at the time, a temporary burst of emotion on my part. As Israel intensified its military assault on Gaza throughout January 2009, my anguish only deepened. I read news reports of Apache helicopters dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on 1.5 million people crowded into a besieged 140-square-mile patch of land. I learned about the bombing of schools and homes in which entire families were destroyed, about men, women, and children literally burned to the bone with white phosphorus. Throughout it all, I continued to blog openly about the outrages I believed Israel was committing in Gaza—and about my increasing sense of solidarity with Gazan civilians.

Over the months following Cast Lead, I broadened my scope, writing numerous posts addressing my changing relationship to Israel. As the months went by, I brought all my nagging, gnawing doubts out into the bright light of day. It soon became clear to me that Cast Lead was simply the final tipping point of a domino line I’d been setting up steadily over the years. I became increasingly involved in Palestinian solidarity work, founding, with my colleague Rabbi Brian Walt, an initiative called Jewish Fast for Gaza and taking on a leadership role in the rapidly growing national organization Jewish Voice for Peace. Along the way, I recorded and commented upon my newfound activism in Shalom Rav.

Although I knew I was taking a risk on many levels by publishing my initial post, the conversation that has resulted fills me with hope. I am immensely proud of the relatively high and eloquent level of the debate on my blog, and I am regularly awed by the willingness of so many of my commenters to be fundamentally challenged over such a difficult issue. Over the years, I’ve been humbled and excited to convene this lively, almost Talmudic discussion between members of my congregation along with countless others: Jews, Israelis, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians, and citizens of various ethnicities and nations, many of whom I have never actually met—and most likely never will.

* * *
Today, I continue to serve my congregation in Evanston. I continue to “wrestle in the daylight,” and I continue to advocate for a just peace in Israel/Palestine. I’m often asked where I stand now—that is, now that I’ve officially broken ranks with liberal Zionism. Although it’s not a simple answer, I do know this: My primary religious motivation comes from my inherited Jewish tradition, in which God commands me to stand with the oppressed and to call out the oppressor. I know that the American Jewish community is my spiritual home and that I stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle against oppression. And I know that I fervently desire a just and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians.

I also know that my constituency is not as narrow as some might think. Through my work, I have come to discover increasing numbers of Jews—particularly young Jews—who genuinely seek a home in the Jewish community but cannot countenance the Jewish establishment’s orthodoxy on Israel. I have also met many non-Jews—including Palestinians, interfaith colleagues, and fellow political activists—who constitute a new, exciting, ever-growing community of conscience.

Along the way, I’ve come to believe that too many of us have been wrestling in the dark on this issue for far too long. I believe we simply must find a way to widen the limits of public discourse on Israel/Palestine, no matter how painful the prospect. It is my fervent hope that the conversations presented here might represent, in their small way, a step toward the light of day.

* * *

About Rabbi Brant Rosen

Rosen is the midwest regional director of the American Friends Services Committee

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32 Responses

  1. Mooser
    September 5, 2012, 12:11 pm

    Oh, Jesus, everybody’s got a long-winded explanation, complete with a ton of out-Jewing (not related to the awful expression “Jewing down” it’s much closer to a “kosher Holier than thou”) but I get the jist. Time to get out while the gettings good! I appreciate the tip from a guy who’s seen inside the stable. I sure am glad I don’t have to make all those greasy excuses for not seeing what was right in front of your frickin nose for so many years, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with making a graceful getaway when the party’s over, and it’s time to call it a day.

  2. Mooser
    September 5, 2012, 12:25 pm

    “It is my fervent hope that the conversations presented here might represent, in their small way, a step toward the light of day.”

    ‘Oh, crap, those ZIonists really have blown it, and this could reflect badly. I know, let’s just trivialise it to death. Yup, it’s those “small steps” which save (you should excuse the expression) our bacon.
    You couldn’t see what was right in front of your nose, Rabbi, for years and years. Just shut up already. You made good and goddam sure to wait until it’s too late before you started.

    You know what? Listening to anybody who calls themselves “Rabbi” when it comes to something like this is like going back to the doctor who mistakenly cut off your arm (you went in for a hung toenail) and him proposing to fix it by cutting off your other arm. Isn’t it time we got a second opinion?

  3. LisaAK
    September 5, 2012, 3:08 pm

    @Mooser – I don’t know who you are, or what your life experience has been that you feel compelled to attack one of “the good guys.” It is clear that you haven’t read this book, and even more clear that you’ve never met Brant. A number of your comments don’t even make sense. Brant never cut off anyone’s arm, or hurt anybody. There is a certain segment of left-wing activists that I just don’t understand and you appear to be one of them. You raise your voices to get people’s attention & educate them – at least in theory to try and change the world for the better, one person at a time. But when people do educate themselves about the issues, question their beliefs, and then join forces with you for the “cause”, you have nothing but contempt for them. You insult Brant publicly because why? To achieve what? His efforts are not “pure” enough for you because you always believed this way, and you see him as a newbie? Or maybe you just don’t like him because he’s Jewish? Or because he’s a rabbi? Wouldn’t your energy be better spent focusing on the people and the forces that continue to perpetuate the dire human rights situation in Israel and Palestine? On a slow day, Brant’s character, intellect, knowledge, and eloquence furthers the cause of a just peace by reaching more people in a positive way than you probably have in your entire life.

    • radkelt
      September 5, 2012, 11:24 pm

      I love this site, and the informed commentary it invokes.
      Mooser’s observations are inflected with cynicism, sarcasm,
      humor and frequently uncomfortable truths. I for one treasure
      them. You sort of have to be an habitué of this site to get
      the zeitgeist.Take them seriously with a dash of skepticism.

      • Theo
        September 6, 2012, 8:16 am

        radkelt

        You better have a thick skin when Mooser aims his sarcasm and humor at you. On the other hand, he has a very thin skin.

    • American
      September 6, 2012, 1:26 am

      “There is a certain segment of left-wing activists that I just don’t understand and you appear to be one of them. You raise your voices to get people’s attention & educate them – at least in theory to try and change the world for the better, one person at a time”……LisaAK

      Not totally disagreeing with you and not speaking for Mooser. But for myself and most others our frustration is caused by the.. ..”one person at a time”..cause the world and the Palestine can’t wait for one person at a time to see what is right in front of their face and has been for decades if they Israel or zionism supporters.

    • Inanna
      September 6, 2012, 6:07 am

      On a slow day, Brant’s character, intellect, knowledge, and eloquence furthers the cause of a just peace by reaching more people in a positive way than you probably have in your entire life.

      Well for quite a while now, Mooser has been making laugh so hard that it’s painful. The best is when he makes me laugh and cry. Rosen has never done that for me.

      But seriously, it appears to me that Mooser has had moral clarity on this issue for a lot longer than Rosen. So perhaps you framing this as a pissing contest is not the wisest thing to do?

    • Miss Costello
      September 6, 2012, 4:26 pm

      LisaAK; Bollicks.

  4. jrfinkel
    September 5, 2012, 4:10 pm

    Gee, Mooser, I wish we could all come out of the womb as enlightened and impervious to social conditioning as you. Tell me, how does it feel to be fully formed and perfect? When did you stop developing?

  5. Stephen Shenfield
    September 5, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Better late than never. Perhaps it isn’t too late.

    • Blake
      September 5, 2012, 5:42 pm

      From: “Zionism: A Jewish Communal Response” a booklet released by The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Rabbi Tony Bayfield writes: “I am horrified by some strands of Zionism which treat the Bible as an exclusive title deed written by God… It is not Judaism’s title deed to the land.”

      • MHughes976
        September 6, 2012, 10:03 am

        I heard recently that bible quizzes are a new vogue, some televised. I looked idly for, and tried my hand at, a few on the net – mixed results, I must admit. One site that came up was from the Israeli Ministry of Education. This makes a very explicit point, as the starting point for all consideration of the text, quizzes being a very minor part of the picture, that the Bible unites all strains of Jewish opinion and proves the Jewish right to their land. Perhaps Tony Bayfield should take this up with them. I’d be interested to hear a little more of what he thinks – or do I really want to know? If the Bible does not provide a title deed it surely shows (if we concede any authority to it) that no exclusive group has morally valid title and thus that the attempt to claim a title deed on other grounds is profoundly mistaken.

      • gamal
        September 7, 2012, 7:41 pm

        I knew Tony Bayfield and worked with him at the BBC, in the religion and ethics dept, he was a warm, if melancholy man, his wife had died a year or two previously, in a recording studio where we all brought some music to represent our faith/cultures (i brought massive attacks remix of Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan’s Mustt Mustt, i dont recall his music nor that of the reverend Rosemary who did most of the work and facilitated (bullied our lazy arses) our written presentations) during a lull in recording he turned to me and said that the Jews were only ones who thought of survival, out of the blue obviously in some way directed at me, and followed this up with the anguished assertion (it is possible) that Judaism was a different from other faiths in that it required the conquest of the land.

        I could see his heart was not in it, seems he has reached the end of that road or at least a fork in it, ah its an inclusive title? so much neurosis over something so obvious.

      • Blake
        September 14, 2012, 1:14 pm

        Interesting thanks and I do like that Massive Attack rmx of “Mustt Mustt”

  6. sardelapasti
    September 5, 2012, 5:24 pm

    LisaAK: “Brant never cut off anyone’s arm, or hurt anybody.”

    Supporting Zionism in any form or wise hurts a great many people! Doing it for several years (over 64 years, to be precise) when everything is in plain daylight makes it worse. Of course, repenting is always welcome, but what is to be given for that is not thanks or congratulations, but a big Duh. I hope the Rabbi himself agrees. Let’s add that remaining loyal to tribal identity, as the Rabbi does, indicates that he still doesn’t get what feeds Zionism and makes it successful.

    to jrfinkel:
    The time now is that of the rats jumping out of the sinking ship (“social conditioning” doesn’t work on everybody and there is a reason for that.) Next and last to jump out will be the morons and, due to the nature of the nationalist beast, especially for fake nationalisms, a lot of people will remain in that sinking hulk, convinced that they are some kind of heroes, and that they are winning anyway.

    That said, good move. Better late than never, etc.

    • jrfinkel
      September 5, 2012, 6:45 pm

      sardelapasti writes, “The time now is that of the rats jumping out of the sinking ship…” From this I take it to mean that you think that Rabbi Rosen is a “rat.” I take it to mean that you would consider anyone–and everyone–who changes their position on Israel to be a “rat.”

      This sure is a funny way to go about political activism, which is based on the strategy of convincing people to change. Yea, let’s work to convince them and then call them “rats” for not changing earlier. Worse, let’s call those people who change their minds “morons.”

      I am reminded of the ultra-left activist who tried to undermine Not In My Name when we started it here in Chicago in 2000. “Where were you in 1969?” he once asked me accusingly before he actively set about to destroy us. I always wondered where he was in 1948; but I was not silly enough to ask him, nor to ridicule him for not being active when he was an infant.

      Of course, the main problem is that he is still an infant. Ultra-leftism (and into this category I put Mooser and sardelapasti) continues to demonstrate that some people appreciate little about the dialectics of change.

      • David Green
        September 5, 2012, 8:54 pm

        I second all of that.

      • ColinWright
        September 6, 2012, 12:03 am

        And I’ll third it. Particularly…

        “…This sure is a funny way to go about political activism, which is based on the strategy of convincing people to change…”

      • Miss Costello
        September 6, 2012, 4:34 pm

        Colin Wright; There’s a difference between “convincing people to change” thru’ hard core on the ground political activism -and writing a book sixty four years after the event.

      • sardelapasti
        September 5, 2012, 11:36 pm

        At the end of the day, lying to people or ignoring some of the facts to get them to like you doesn’t seem to work. I happen to be convinced, based on what I get out of a longish lifetime, that stark, uncamouflaged facts are always more effective. Including in the matter of acquiring allies. This not being physics or even biology, there are no hard measurements or reliable statistical tests. You are of course entitled to your subjective opinion in the matter. Just that if I were in your shoes I wouldn’t try to make it some kind of universal law, especially considering the amount of success of the politics of playing footsie with the tribalists and the Zionists. Or even partly belonging to them.

        Also, some of us rightly don’t give a rat’s ass about the tribe or any of the occupiers; the only aim is the dismantling of the racial state and the right to decide by themselves for the Palestinian people. This conversation has little to do with the tribe. It is a Palestinian matter; both Zionists and Jews are a sideshow, certainly to be worked at, but unlikely to be relevant given the huge proportion of Zionists. A proportion not likely to be reduced by much before physical defeat is there. Let’s be a little more realistic about that.

    • ColinWright
      September 6, 2012, 12:11 am

      sardelapasti says: “… Let’s add that remaining loyal to tribal identity, as the Rabbi does, indicates that he still doesn’t get what feeds Zionism and makes it successful…”

      I’d say you’ve got to decide then. Do you want a small band of cognoscenti, who have discovered the one truth in all its aspects — or do you just want to encourage everyone who opposes Israel regardless of their other beliefs?

      Frankly, I could care less what the good rabbi thinks about Jews and Judaism. So long as he opposes Israel, that’s good enough for me.

      As Al Davis said, ‘just win, baby.’ I don’t care how it happens, or who’s on the team.

  7. just
    September 5, 2012, 7:06 pm

    I look forward to reading more. Well written.

    Rabbi Rosen’s emergence into the daylight reminds me a bit of what is beginning to happen here, thanks to Mondoweiss and others.

  8. Annie Robbins
    September 5, 2012, 8:20 pm

    i’ve heard about Rabbi Rosen’s book from my friend Helena Cobban and very much look forward to reading it. helena has excellent taste and every just world book is excellent. (i’ve read quite a few actually!) http://justworldbooks.com/

    as a person who was not brought up with a sense of ‘homeland’, especially one i had not even visited , or the concept of a ‘people’ as being all sort of related to me ethnically, as opposed to feeling like i was part of a movement (like in the 60’s) or raised to think the world was all out to get me and people hated me for being myself or a whole bunch of other things i can’t completely relate to the difficult-ness it has required of jews of my generation. growing up in the shadow, so close to the shadow of that war, the devastation. and to be the children of our parents generation. anyway i think this generation especially those born first after the war were raised in a way that likely took a psychological toll wrt israel. or a requirement to be loyal to the state as if the state was a member of ones family or something.

    so i think it is really important this shift and i am grateful the rabbi is out in front because his voice can move mountains within a certain demographic.

    so i have something else to say but i want to put it in another comment.

  9. Annie Robbins
    September 5, 2012, 8:55 pm

    One popular interpretation suggests that the night stranger with whom Jacob struggles at this critical moment is none other than Jacob himself—perhaps his alter ego or his shadow self.

    But why must the wrestling match necessarily take place at night? Why does the night stranger say so desperately to Jacob in the next verse, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking?” Perhaps this detail is teaching us that our deepest struggles invariably occur in the most private of places.

    i do not know the story of jacob but when i read this i wanted to share what popped into my head about ” the most private of places” as being the subconscious.

    notice how the way humans are wired wrt how many hours we sleep? this is not only a time of rest, it is a time when we are unconscious of thoughts that are in our subconscious when it is released from our conscious so it can have time to process stuff on it’s own, without all that baggage that comes from our waking self.

    i would interpret the day and night as the conversation between conscious and the subconscious. the same way we can or cannot remember dreams….the subconscious doesn’t let the conscious see things it isn’t ready to see.

    in this way perhaps the ‘public’ is actually your waking conscious mind and that is where the real risk is, facing what you know to be true, what you truly believe. for some people it makes them crazy and that is why they live in denial. we engage in our most challenging struggles internally..first in our subconscious while we are asleep. so the stranger saying let me go the dawn is breaking, he is protecting jacob, protecting him from the fullness of what he knows to be true. for it won’t be ‘true’ to him until he discovers it ‘on his own’ or in his conscious thoughts.

    This book is, among other things, a record of the moment I personally began to wrestle in the daylight. It documents a two-year period during which I publicly struggled, as a congregational rabbi, with one of the most difficult and painfully divisive issues facing the American Jewish community.

    looking forward to reading it.

    • just
      September 5, 2012, 11:54 pm

      Annie– very well stated!

      It’s why I am also intrigued how the evolution actually happens. I have had a lot of people/mentors in my life who firmly believe that people can never change.

      I’ve resisted that notion, always. I think that a large part the key may be subconscious vs conscious and whether or not a person is willing/able to reconcile the two.

      That, and whether they acknowledge or can recognize conscience and empathy.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 6, 2012, 1:02 am

        I have had a lot of people/mentors in my life who firmly believe that people can never change.

        get new mentors. yes, people generally do not change…overnight. but clearly people do evolve, it happens to the best of us. it is very rare to find conscious/conscience impervious to change much less physical matter. change is a constant feature in our environment.

        since i wrote my last comment i have googled jacob and the stranger.i started with a children’s story but i am expanding currently. one thing i learned was about his hip. and that reminded me of something also. i always think we are informed by our subconscious when we are having problems. my personal theory has always been that only if we ignore our own thoughts knocking at our door/mind will physical circumstances enter that demand we recognize/get our attention. therefore when i hurt myself physically i always ask myself how the pain serves me. really i do. i ask what i have ignored. occasionally i may not zero in on this but generally i do. if for example i stub my toe, while the pain is searing thru my body my first thought is.. why, how does this serve me and how have i not been listening to the signals? for i truly believe we are more connected to a plane of reality that contacts us first thru our minds and only if we ignore it demands our attention thru the physical. therefore, when i read about jacob’s hip..i knew it was because it was a gift to help him survive. he just wasn’t groking it otherwise. so his mind, or the universe, or god or whatever it is one believes in, gifted him a physical reminder. better to live in reality with a broken hip than in denial without knowingness of ones own truth.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 6, 2012, 1:13 am

        firmly believe that people can never change

        it will serve you to strike the word never from your vocabulary and your mind. the saying ‘never say never’ is appropriate wrt beings and all living things. one time someone asked me what never applied to, my response regarded the concept of change. change never halts.

  10. American
    September 6, 2012, 2:07 am

    I have to give Rabbi Rosen credit for coming out publicaly on Israel….and for keeping it up. This was very well written and I would like to see him contribute more on MW.

    I would also like for him to expand some on what he said about how pervasive zionism is or isn’t in Jewish circles and what he thinks can be done about it re US politics on Israel.

  11. LisaAK
    September 6, 2012, 8:25 am

    @American – you can read more about Rabbi Brant’s opinions on his blog: rabbibrant.com (“Shalom Rav”). You can do a search for the topics you mentioned.

    This is one example regarding U.S. politics on Israel: “Obama in 2012: Won’t Get Fooled Again,” http://rabbibrant.com/2012/06/11/obama-in-2012-wont-get-fooled-again/

    Here is one on American Jewish Zionism: http://rabbibrant.com/2010/10/22/on-jvp-zionism-and-jewish-community-growing-pains/

    As for MW, just go to the search field and type in “Brant Rosen,” and you will get about ten pages of contributions, mentions and comments. Here is one about getting “edited” by the Washington Post: http://mondoweiss.net/2011/03/light-a-candle-for-gaza-the-rabbis-piece-the-washington-post-wouldnt-publish-without-major-changes.html

    You can also order his book through Just World Books online which contains articles and comments from his blog from 2008-10.

  12. Miss Costello
    September 6, 2012, 4:24 pm

    “wrestle in the daylight,” My arse. Why didnt he ‘wrestle’ before his book came out?

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