Friday, January 15, 2021

Va-Eira: On Being an Ancient Egyptian in 2021

Now that we have returned to the Story of the Exodus, and are just this week reading about the confrontations between Moses and Pharaoh, I feel it is time to share something I’ve been working on for a while. The fact that the timing has coincided fortuitously with the upcoming inauguration is actually somewhat astonishing. But it has made me feel all the more certain - especially after last week’s attempted insurrection - that I need to share these thoughts here on the blog:


For several months now, I have been forming an uncomfortable picture in my head of what’s going on in the world, and in our country, as we dive into the year 2021. We are living in Ancient Egypt. But we’re not our Israelite ancestors in this scenario. Nope. In this iteration, we play a VERY different role. We are the poor, unfortunate Egyptian citizens who are being decimated by plagues because of an injustice that we’re allowing to persist. In part, it’s being done TO us, but our complacency is exacerbating our predicament. We were born into a system of inequality and luxury that wasn’t of our own making, but we benefit from it daily. Our slaves are not called Israelites, but rather immigrants - documented or undocumented - as well as various minority groups and People of Color who are at the lower ends (and sometimes the very bottom...) of our modern-day caste system. People who feel that, to the Egyptians, their lives do not Matter.

Living is America today is what it feels like to be led by Pharaoh. We may squabble over whether he’s hardening his own heart, or whether God is doing it, but the result is the same. He has a heart of stone for the less-fortunate and anyone not allied with him. And in the face of plague after plague, he continues to rail against the defenseless. He has insisted on forcing upon us policies that harm the climate, punish the disenfranchised, ruin heathcare, denounce mask use, and pretend the pandemic is a hoax. And who suffers? The Egyptians. We pled and pled with him to listen, but in the end, it always fell on deaf ears. Greed, self-worship, thirst for power, foolish pride, and narcissism made it very hard to hear, or feel, anyone else’s perspective. 


Throughout his reign, he was surrounded by his own royal court, who supported him and his policies. Like the magicians and courtiers of Pharaoh, these modern-day illusionists performed incredible tricks that eroded the very fabric of our democracy (ignoring emoluments and blatant conflicts of interest; installing biased and unqualified justices, thwarting impeachment(s?), turning a blind eye to corruption, bullying, and intimidation, allowing collusion with foreign governments, fanning the anger of the “stolen” election, and so much else). They condoned and enabled, endlessly, until like the magicians in Pharaoh’s court, they too eventually saw the horror of what they had done, and begged him to stop. The Egyptian courtiers were confronted with the inevitable, disastrous, and lethal outcome of their complicity. But it was too late.


The similarities between America in 2021 and Egypt in 4,000 BCE are brutally and eerily stark. What recourse did the Egyptian people have to stop the onslaught of Divine plagues? Punishments that were all-too-similar to our modern-day heat waves, forest fires, murder hornets/locusts/lantern flies, hurricanes, food waste, and a global pandemic? None. No recourse to mitigate the disaster. But the text does hint at another option. The Erev Rav. When the Israelites finally left, an “Erev Rav,” a “mixed multitude” (Ex. 12:38) of non-Israelites left as well. Who were they? Is it possible, perhaps, that some Egyptians saw the evil of their vicious ruler for what it was? They knew it was fundamentally wrong, that their cities were built on the backs of their slaves, and that there was a rotten core at the center of their social systems. They couldn’t remain silent or neutral, so instead they threw their lot in with the Israelites. They painted their houses with lamb’s blood when they saw the slaves doing it. And they marched out the next day, out of a corrupt society, and into an unknown wilderness, trusting in their new God...


That is a choice we still can make. There are many ways to be “Egyptian” in our story, in 2021. We could be like Shifra and Puah, the Egyptian midwives who refused to kill Israelite newborn babies. Like a Wall of Moms, they formed a barrier against government brutality, even (maybe especially) when they themselves were not the target of the violence. Or we could be like the daughter of Pharaoh, putting two and two together, and realizing a baby floating in the reeds was an Israelite child. Refusing to look the other way when injustice is committed. Refusing to go on bathing and assuming NO responsibility for the life of another. Does she take on risk? Of course! Is it a burden, an expense, and a commitment of emotion, caring, and compassion? Absolutely. And it must be all those things. 


But our story has already differed from that of the Ancient Egyptians in one crucial way; Pharaoh is about to lose his golden throne. We cannot, however, assume that will be the end of the struggle. Every ruler in Egypt, across centuries - whether dealing with Abraham, Jacob, Moses, or David - was called “Pharaoh,” so just because one gets shown the door doesn’t mean the next one won’t provide more of the same. WE have to challenge ALL the members of our leadership - local and national - to see the perils and plagues that will be the ONLY possible result of continuing down this path. Perhaps we do not have the luxury of being led by a new “Moses” (though it IS worth noting that Moses was 80 years old, according to the Torah, when he confronted Pharaoh, so maybe we’re two years AHEAD of schedule??). These stories are not identical, and that shouldn’t be the lesson anyway. But there is still a lot we CAN learn from these cautionary tales! We should imagine ourselves as Egyptians, in the midst of (or, please God, SOON on the other end of...) the plagues. This stage is awful. It simply is. But the plagues WILL end, and when they do, we will have to decide how to rebuild our society; hopefully with at least a CERTAIN “Pharaoh” in the rear-view mirror...


Friday, January 8, 2021

Shemot: It Starts With Chaos

We are often wont to label history and specific past events as “good” or “bad.” Whether it’s our own Jewish history, American history, or any other, we tend to look back and declare that x battle or y renaissance were positive or negative moments... presumably for everyone at the time and since. In reality, the past is much more complex than that, and generally works like an intricate, seemingly-well-designed-but-potentially-chaotic Rube Goldberg machine. (Click on the name, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about...) Each element performs some action, which directly CAUSES the subsequent action, leading to yet more and more movements... usually culminating in some mundane task. The end goal is never the point; it’s the cause-and-effect of a long, drawn-out, interwoven system. No toy car or rolling ball or domino bar is “good” or “bad” in this system... they simply *are.* Believe it or not, history works that way too.

This week, we are moving on to the Book of Exodus, and the story of the Israelites being enslaved - and then freed - from slavery. It’s a “bad” story, right? Enslavement, torture, whipping, and even killings; these are all clearly terrible, horrific acts. Our reading this Saturday will begin with God approaching Moses at the Burning Bush, and declaring: “I have marked well the plight of My people in Egypt, and have heeded their outcry because of their taskmasters. Yes, I am mindful of their suffering. I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of that land to a good and spacious land; a land flowing with milk and honey...” (Ex. 3:7-8) This is a well-known story in human history - far beyond just among Jews - and it begins a glorious tale of good defeating evil, salvation through Divine miracles, and even the receiving of Torah in the wilderness. We have to ask ourselves, therefore, if any of this incredible story could have taken place without the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt?

The abuses we suffered in Egypt were indeed atrocious, AND it is also true that none of the Exodus could have happened without it. I am NOT suggesting that slavery now should be viewed as a “good thing,” but rather like the Rube Goldberg machine, each action necessarily pushes the next one to occur, and could not have happened without it. This is true for all historical events, but if we just focus on Jewish history, we can see that the destruction of the First Temple led to the creation (quite possibly) of the written Torah; the destruction of the Second Temple allowed Judaism to flourish around the world; the Expulsion from Spain seeded new communities that made enormous contributions to Jewish life, including Jewish life in America; the European pogroms and anti-Semitism created Zionism; and the Holocaust allowed for the formation of the State of Israel. We are not meant to rethink these calamities and now see them as positive, or cause for celebration, but nor should we ignore how later successes, achievements, growth, and perseverance were only possible BECAUSE of what came before.

I say all of this, because the same is true of this unique moment in the United States AND around the world. Facing a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and the horrific assault on the US Capitol Building by domestic terrorists; these are not “good” occurrences. We do not celebrate or give thanks for them. Nevertheless, there is an eschatological (End of Days) concept in Judaism called “Chevlei Mashiach,” “the birth pangs of the Messiah.” Change is HARD, and it comes with pain and chaos by necessity. It is not great or terrible; it simply *is*. The brokenness and divisiveness of our country has been laid bare. It is hard to look at. It feels appalling, revolting, and excruciatingly painful. But closing our eyes and pretending it isn’t there won’t change this reality. Instead, we can acknowledge and even appreciate the opportunity that this moment affords us. Something good MUST come from this chaos. We must ensure that it does. We all must work together to call out the xenophobia, violence, misinformation, and enabling that brought us to this moment. It has indeed been a dark period in our history, for quite a while now. It is time for us to build the next element in the machine. This time, let it be one of growth, equality, compassion, and peace. Then we’ll just have to see where it leads from there.


CC images in this blog post, courtesy of:
1. jclarson on Wikimedia Commons
2. Pixy
3. Ricardo Tulio Gandelman on Wikimedia Commons
4. sfbayca.com



Friday, December 25, 2020

Vayigash: Was I Not Supposed to Do That?

 “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

I think the above quote is relatively famous, though I personally was surprised to discover it’s attributed to Admiral Grace Hopper, (among other things) an early pioneer in the world of computers. I thought it was an old adage, either original to English or from some other language or culture, but maybe this concept isn’t as timeless as I had imagined. Or maybe, possibly, the basic principle is quite ancient, but Hopper just phrased it perfectly. She named something that is indeed quite central to the experience of being a human being... but no one put it as plainly or eloquently as she did. The Torah sure seems to know the concept anyway; there’s an example right here in this week’s parashah!

The major climax of the Joseph story has arrived. He finally revealed to his brothers that he, the grand vizier of Egypt, was actually their long-lost (that is, sold into slavery... but who’s counting?) brother. And soon he will also be reunited with his father, in a beautiful and heart-warming scene. There is, however, an underlying tension that is NOT being addressed. I’m not referring here to the way the brothers treated Joseph; that plot line actually DOES get dealt with at length. No, this is a much-much older tension that dates back to Abraham. We, the Jewish people, are tied to the Promised Land, known originally as Canaan, later to be called Israel. And whenever an ancestor leaves this land, God expresses some displeasure. So when Joseph sends word to his father that he is alive and weathering this seven-year famine just swimmingly, the Zionistically-inclined reader might raise an eyebrow when Joseph adds, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me without delay! You will dwell in the land of Goshen, where you can stay close to me.” (Gen. 45:9-10)

But Jacob goes. He leaves without hesitation; almost interrupting his sons mid-speech because he is so eager to see Joseph. Somewhere in the back of his mind, however, he must know that this isn’t going to be a two-week stay in an AirBnB; they’re definitely relocating the whole extended family to Egypt. This, I would argue, is where the Torah appears sympathetic to Jacob’s predicament, and subtly suggests that Jacob intends to “follow” the words of Admiral Hopper: He’ll ask God’s forgiveness for having left, rather than permission to go. I say that the Torah is sympathetic, because even though Jacob isn’t waiting to inquire what God thinks of this plan, the text tells us that God comes to Jacob preemptively and blesses his endeavor: “And God said, ‘I am El, the God of your father. Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will make you there into a great nation. I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I Myself will also bring you back, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.’” (46:3-4) We might be tempted to view this as a very awkward moment. God said “don’t worry about going to Egypt,” and you and I might want to respond, “Ummmm... Jacob didn’t seem all that worried...” But I think the text is more empathetic than that.

God wants Jacob to know that it’s ok to make assertive, proactive decisions. God blesses Jacob’s uprooting of his family before he has to confront the ramifications of his actions for himself. Perhaps God is even speaking to subsequent generations of Israelites, who will understandably cry out: “why, oh why, did Jacob ever bring us here???” God reassures the slaves, their descendants, and yes, even you and me today, that Jacob made the right decision. Much like the immortal words of Grace Hopper, it also reminds us that waiting for permission and following procedure, established rules and precedent, and “the way it’s always been” doesn’t always yield the best results. It’s not just a facetious, anti-establishment quip; it is actually true that sometimes you have to forge ahead, trust your instincts, and only later, if and when it is necessary, ask for forgiveness for transgressing a norm or expectation. As we prepare to start a new (secular) year, with so many precedents and traditions already having been thrown out the window, and a genuine need to start afresh, I hope we all keep this teaching in mind. We surely do NOT know what lies ahead, but we WILL turn whatever it is into a blessing. 

Happy New Year!


CC images in this blog post, courtesy of:
1. Wikimedia Commons
2. Moshe Milner on Wikimedia Commons
3. Pixabay
4. Pixabay


Friday, December 18, 2020

Mikeitz: What Dreams May Be

In a lot of good literature, ancient and modern, there is a moment of ultimate accountability. Some call it karma, retribution, just desserts, or even - oddly enough - a “come to Jesus” moment. One way or another, things come full circle. The Bible loves this type of literary device. To be sure, it is a major feature in this week’s reading. My question, therefore, isn’t so much about IF it happens (it does), but rather: when does the actual MOMENT of comeuppance occur? In our particular story, Joseph is living in Egypt and the seven years of plenty have - as predicted - been followed by seven years of Covid... sorry, I meant to say “famine.” Joseph’s family, back in Canaan, have of course been afflicted by the scarcity as well, and Jacob ultimately sends ten of his remaining eleven sons to procure food from Egypt. And I cannot help but wonder - when exactly does it hit the brothers that the decades-old prophecies have come true?

You see, years earlier, when the brothers were forced to deal with their maddeningly bratty younger sibling, who just pranced around in his multi-colored coat and tattled on them to daddy, something TRULY sent them over the edge. Joseph, that little runt, had the insufferable chutzpah to tell them that he dreamt that eleven sheaves of wheat would bow down to him, and soon after, that eleven stars AND the sun and moon would also be prostrating before him. “It isn’t bad enough that you’re a spoiled brat, the favored child, and oblivious to the pain you’re causing the rest of us... now you think you’re one day going to be our KING?!?!?” They can’t take it anymore; they throw him in a pit, and soon after sell him as a slave to nomadic merchants passing by. But that was long ago. Ancient history. In our parashah, that little punk is no more, and instead the brothers are facing Tzafenat Paneach, the grand vizier of Egypt, second-in-command to Pharaoh! And they have NO CLUE that the two are one and the same.

Joseph realizes it first. Not only because he recognizes them, even when they do not know him, but the Torah wants to link this moment back to those prophecies from way back when: “For though Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Recalling the dreams that he had dreamt about them, Joseph said to them, ‘You are spies! You have come to see the land and it’s vulnerabilities!!” (Gen. 42:8-9) Deep down, Joseph is stunned and awed at this moment; here they are, bowing, begging, and groveling before him. Who would have ever thought?? However, just a few verses later, the Torah does something really interesting. As this powerful Egyptian lord keeps pressing them and bullying them, they recall - unprompted - what they did to Joseph! They have absolutely no idea that their long-lost, enslaved brother is standing in front of them, more powerful than any of them could EVER have imagined. Yet they turn to one another and say: “Alas, we are being punished because of our brother. We looked on at his anguish, yet paid no heed as he pleaded with us. That is why this distress has come upon us.” (v. 21) I guess that (festering...) pain wasn’t hidden too deep under the surface, was it?

But the brothers won’t actually have their “come to Jesus (Joseph?)” moment for a few more chapters. Joseph will keep them squirming for a while. When he finally reveals himself, however, I wonder how quickly the light bulbs went off over each of their heads? Or oil lamps, I suppose, if we’re being period-appropriate. That sinking realization that the eleven of us look an awful lot like bowing sheaves of wheat right now... And the point, I suppose, of all this is that we are meant to examine and reexamine ourselves as well. What we do, and say, and convey; it matters! Karma can indeed boomerang around and come flying back at us! When we put goodness and kindness into the world, it may return to us at the most unexpected - yet greatly appreciated - moments. And hurtful, vindictive things not only leave a mark on others, but may plague us too... for decades! As we prepare to launch into a new year, we can indeed begin with a clean slate. But that doesn’t erase the past, or heal wounds that were never addressed. It just means we have a new opportunity to grow, mend, feel, and learn for the future. Don’t let that precious chance go to waste.


CC images in this blog post, courtesy of:
1. Willis Lam on Wikimedia Commons
2. Rolfmueller on Wikimedia Commons
3. Nick Youngson on Alpha Stock Images
4. Pixabay.com


Friday, December 4, 2020

Va-Yeishev (pre-Chanukah): Waiting For A Special "Elixir" to Arrive

Chanukah is a good example of an evolving holiday. It's probably about 2,200 years old, and when it was first "dedicated" on our calendar (the word "Chanukah" means "dedication"), it surely must have seemed like a new-fangled kind of thing. Some people were on board with adding a celebration, others curmudgeonly said everything was better in the old days when no new holidays were added by anyone EVER! Over the centuries, Chanukah has been viewed as a symbol of Jewish military might and perseverance; as a lead-in to discussions of assimilation vs. ghettoization; a sign of God's protective power to make the oil last; a joyous day to exchange gelt (real coins or chocolate) and eat fried foods; a worthy competitor to Christmas in preventing little Jewish children from pining endlessly in December; a cautionary tale about zealotry; and an opportunity for interfaith connections, as groups join together to celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Diwali, and more. Did I miss anything?

Oh, yes, I want to add one more: Chanukah, in more recent times, has also become a favorite holiday for environmental groups and Jewish climate change activists. Why? Because one of the central "miracles" of Chanukah reminds us that we all can make do with less. We "thought" we needed x amount of olive oil, and simply could NOT perform the rituals without it. Yet somehow, magically (or perhaps just more sparingly...) we figured it out. Is this not a central lesson as we head into 2021, and our country - please God - refocuses on our obligations to our earth? Chanukah invites us to reframe how we define "need." Rather than indulge in eight days of presents, and allowing ourselves and our children to satiate our cravings for more and more STUFF; maybe discussing the rationing of oil can lead to new thinking around what is sufficient, how to be content, and how to share with others and with our planet?

I actually want to add yet ANOTHER new perspective as well, a new and vital teaching that we can glean from our Festival of Lights. Right now, in the lead-up to Chanukah, all the nations on the planet are preparing for the release of a much-needed, much-anticipated vaccine against the Coronavirus. But we cannot all get it at once. This precious commodity won't immediately be ready to “brighten” all our lives. We have to make do. We have to make strategic, difficult choices about how to keep our society going, even as we desperately wait for more of this "elixir" to be produced. The parallels to the pure oil needed to rededicate the Ancient Temple are actually quite striking. All of what I said above could apply to the Chanukah story OR our current pre-vaccine predicament.

More than even the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach, Sukkot, or Purim, Chanukah teaches us about communal obligation. When we band together, we can defeat entire armies. But not only that, we can also figure out how to share our resources in a more well-thought-out manner that benefits everyone. Whether it’s olive oil, presents, gelt, the diminishing resources of our planet, or a miraculous vaccine that can put an end to this pandemic nightmare. Chanukah reminds us that we can, and must, *dedicate* and *rededicate* ourselves to one another, and to our shared benefits. When we do, we can make the most miraculous things occur.


CC images in this blog post, courtesy of:
1. ModernTribe.com
2. Christmashat on Freeimageslive
3. Stevepb on pixabay
4. KateNovikova on depositphotos


L’Chaim (Newsletter) Article, December, 2020: There Must Be 50 Ways to Give Tzedakah

 From the Rabbi’s Virtual Desk - There Must Be 50 Ways to Give Tzedakah.

You can give a dollar bill, Jill. Or use a credit card, Bernard. Click on a website, Dwight. Send a check in the mail, Gail. 


Ok, I think you get my point. We all know it is important to give tzedakah. But how much do we know about the challenges and barriers to RECEIVING it? Our Biblical and medieval ancestors all spoke about the inherent tensions in dealing with charitable behavior, and I think now is as good a time as any to review some basic principles. 


The Rambam (A.k.a. Moses Maimonides, 12th Century Spain & Egypt) actually wrote out a hierarchy of giving. At the lower end, it begins with giving begrudgingly in a public setting, which is NOT great… but still counts as tzedakah. Then the Rambam identifies a whole series of categories that factor in embarrassment. If the giver and the recipient know one another, that’s ok, but it CAN create embarrassment and shame. If the giver knows, but not the receiver, or vice versa, or neither, these are various levels of giving, according to the Rambam. And at the top of his list is teaching another a trade, or in some other way empowering others to assist themselves. 


This all seems theoretical, or just a nice set of guidelines to keep in mind. But right now, there is more than enough hardship and economic insecurity to go around. Many people may be on the receiving end of kindness, who never expected to find themselves there. A lot of individuals and families struggle with the shame, stigma, and self-reproach that may come with financial woes. I understand these concerns. The emotions are real… but so are the repercussions of a VERY scary economic downturn.


Please remember that Ohev Shalom is here for you, for us all. We have funds and resources that we are able - and honored - to distribute; without judgment or guilt. I know it can be challenging to ask for help, and sometimes we literally do not know how to do so. I am writing this message, right now, to tell you that ALL the stages along Rambam’s ladder of tzedakah matter. You don’t need to evaluate whether someone else’s potential need may or may not be greater than yours. Please reach out if you need help. Or if you know someone else who might, we want to know that as well. 


I cannot instruct or command you NOT to feel shame. It’s an awkward topic, plain and simple. The needs, however, are real, and so is the pain. If there are 50+ ways to GIVE tzedakah, there are surely 50 - or more - ways to receive it. All are legitimate, all are welcome, and all those needs are seen. No need to be coy, boy (or girl).

Sincerely,

Rabbi Gerber



Friday, November 27, 2020

Va-Yeitzei: Sometimes, a Mandrake is not a Mandrake...

You know that feeling, when you can cut the tension in the room with a knife? It could be for lots of different reasons - sadness, anger, desire, awkwardness - but somehow you’ve found yourself in a room with two, or more, people (you might be one of them) are experiencing a strong, uncomfortable emotion, usually yielding silence... and now no one knows what to do or say next. The tension creates a stifling energy that is palpable, thick, heavy. We’ve all been there (not infrequently in the context of Thanksgiving...). Part of the challenge of that moment is, almost nothing can ease that tension. If you try and change the subject, the tension will likely just follow your smooth transition, and even a conversation about the weather, the Eagles, or food risks dialing the awkward back up to 11. We see a fascinating example of this in our Torah portion, where the tension in question both comes to a sharp climax... and is actually not resolved at all. 

It begins with some mandrakes. Oh, sure, you’re thinking. Of course! Doesn’t drama seem to always begin with some mandrakes??? (*Awkward Silence*) Yeah, I didn’t really know what they were either. Basically, it’s a plant, with pretty flowers and roots that look like the human form when pulled out of the ground. For our purposes, it’s worth knowing that in the ancient world they were considered very potent herbs, either to stimulate conception and/or as an aphrodisiac. In our story, Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben, while still a boy, finds some mandrakes growing out in the field, and he brings them back to his mother, Leah. Innocent enough, right? But the underlying tension is that Leah has given Jacob six (!!) sons already, but Jacob still loves his OTHER wife, Rachel, who has not been able to conceive. Because of this, Rachel is VERY interested in those mandrakes... but Leah might be reticent to share them with her sister... who is also her rival!

When Rachel asks Leah for some of the mandrakes, the pressure instantly boils over! Leah snaps: “Was it not enough for you to take away my husband, that you would also take my son’s mandrakes?!?” (Gen. 30:15) The story moves on from this moment, obviously, but I wanted to stay in this discomfort for another minute, because I think many of us can TOTALLY relate to both Leah and Rachel in this predicament. One of them is feeling, “ENOUGH already!! You take, and take, and take!” The other might be feeling, “Sheesh. I just asked her for some flowers...” In many of our lives, we bicker, nitpick, squabble, and spar over the silliest of things: “He never puts the cap back on the tube!” “She hums incessantly!” “They always get into the dumbest arguments about the garden!” Sound familiar, right? Especially around the holiday season, this whole blog post might be hitting a nerve... or perhaps several dozen of them!

Ultimately, what I want to suggest to you all is, the squabbling is NOT easier. We tell ourselves over and over again, “It isn’t worth it.” I’m not going to zero in on the *real* issue, so we’ll just go on arguing about the dishes, the remote, or laundry. And I think this kind of tension is actually VERY damaging to the psyche over time. We learn to live with it, so it doesn’t cut as deep every time, but would it really be SO much worse to just talk about “the thing” itself? The elephant in the room? Maybe it seems like THAT conversation would be much, much worse... but is this languishing and bickering really SO much better? It’s the same amount of pain, just inflicted in tiny pricks over decades... and I’m pretty sure that would be considered a form of torture in some cultures! So my challenge to us all is, what would happen if you didn’t make it all about the mandrakes? What if you, and I, and everyone acknowledged when a mandrake isn’t really a mandrake, and we’re yelling at each other over an older grievance that was *never* resolved? And now it’s festering like an old wound. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of wrangling over silly things. It’s just a weed, people. What do you REALLY want to talk about?


CC images in this blogpost, courtesy of:
1. pixabay
2. Wikimedia Commons (via Wellcome Images)
3. pixabay
4. Durova on Wikimedia Commons 


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