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    Spring will make me sing

    Spring will make me singHello all, Passover is quickly approaching, and in honor of this Holiday of Springtime and Freedom, I would like to share three things with you:

      1.  A video from our archive, of our classic  "Child of Man" ("spring will make me sing"..:) performed with Stevie Wonder in the Shrine Auditorium in L.A., 20 years ago!!

    2.  A "Dvar Torah" I wrote about the story of the four brothers in the Haggadah (the manifest traditionally read by Jews  during Passover  Seder) with an important message at the end.

      3. Information about our April concerts around the world!

    Hope to see you on the road :)
    Love
    Noa

    Love your (4) Brothers

    The Torah speaks of Four Brothers: Wise, Evil, Simple and the One who does not know how to ask.

    I have always been intrigued by these four bothers. In essence, their existence in the Hagada and the questions they ask (or do not ask) can give us a different perspective on what is generally thought to be “religious dogma”.  As a child raised in a religious atmosphere, and educated in a Modern Orthodox Yeshiva, I was taught to focus on “naaseh ve nishma”..first we do, then we ask/hear. This is the encapsulation of religious dogma and divine servitude.

    The four brothers teach us something entirely different.

    The wise: asks very specific questions. He thirsts for knowledge, he does not take things for granted.  That is what makes him wise, according to the Hagada. We are commanded to answer his questions. Not to shut his mouth, but rather to seek a response worthy of his curiosity.

    The simple, encapsulates it all into one word: “what? “. We are commanded to take his simple question, and elaborate on it. The Hagada , using the word “tam” which could mean both simple and innocent, tells us in essence,  that nothing could be more obvious, pure and simple than to ask!

    As for The one who knows not how to ask, we are commanded to “open his world”..teach him to ask! The words used in the Hagada “at ptach lo”..are particularly interesting because they mix the feminine and masculine genders: At- feminine, Ptach- masculine. This opening of the eyes and mind is deemed so crucial that it must be shared equally by men and women (sadly, not much else is shared equally by both genders in the torah).  We are to learn from this that there is nothing more important parents can do for their children than showing them the beauty of curiosity, igniting in them the spark of inquisitiveness and the hunger for knowledge.

    But the most important of all, in my opinion, is the son labeled  Evil  by the Hagada.
     The evil one asks: “what is this work to you”- “ma ha’avoda hazot lachem”?
     To you, and not to him, the Hagada says.  In four words, He excludes himself from the family, the  tribe, people, the circle of life.

    Here I see the deepest message of all. The evil son is self-centered and selfish. He puts himself on an island, his sense of identity does not include others. This is considered the ultimate evil in the Hagada, to the extent that the evil son is told God would not have saved him from the atrocities of  slavery in Egypt had he been there.

    The Torah on one foot is “love your brother as you love yourself”. All else pales in the face of this message. As the Torah and all scriptures have been extensively interpreted and re-interpreted over time, I too will interpret this sentence, and the message of the evil son, as God’s way of telling us there is nothing more sacred than human life, and the human solidarity that is needed in order to preserve and protect it.  The process of caring is work, as the evil son states “ma ha-avoda hazot lachem?”..what is this work for you, what does this work mean to you? It is always much easier to turn your back on the other and care only for yourself, as sadly, too many people in the world are doing today. Solidarity, community, sharing and caring: that is hard work.

    The commandments (mitzvoth)  of “ben adam leh chavero”- “between  man and his friend/companion”- are given greater weight and priority in Jewish teachings than “ben adam la makom”-between man and his God”.
    We must care for each-other. We must see each-other clearly, truly see each-other as equal under God and before him.  We must recognize each other’s humanity, aspirations, rights, emotions. We must mourn together , share and  build together if we are to rejoice together.
    Anything less, the Hagada tells us, is evil.

    On the way to this enlightenment, there are questions to be asked, simple questions, elaborate ones: but at the end of the day, the only way to emerge from slavery to freedom, to be saved by God from whatever “Egypt” is enslaving you..
    is to love your brother as you love yourself.
    Noa and Stevie Wonder performing Child of Man, with Gil Dor and Zohar Fresco from Noa (Achinoam Nini) on Vimeo.

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