“The Trouble to See” (Beyond 5)

‘I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.’ (Exodus 3:3)

…this “turning” is a torsion of the neck, a deliberate motion out of the straight, the stiff:

Moses said, Let me turn aside to see…Rabbi Jonathan said, “He took three steps;” Rabbi Simeon ben Levi said, “He took no steps, but he twisted his neck. God said to him, ‘You went to trouble to see —as you live, you are worthy that I should reveal Myself to you.’” Immediately, “God called to him from the midst of the burning bush…” Tanchuma Shemoth 9

God chooses to reveal Himself to Moses, because he has “gone to trouble to see.”…it is his capacity to “twist his neck,” to turn his face in wonder and questioning, that brings him the voice of God.

The neck in torsion—an image for desire, a counter image to the stiff-necked intransigence of those who set themselves against the new. Within Moses himself, within his people, within the Egyptians, even within the representations of God in the narratives of redemption, the tensions of Exodus will seek resolution, the momentary equilibrium that again and again is to be lost and reclaimed.
— Avivah Zornberg, Particulars of Rapture (NY: Doubleday, 2001), p.79-80

Have we “gone to the trouble to see” what needs seeing in order to make real liberation manifest in our world?

What still needs seeing? and What form must our trouble take?

Can we help one another see? How?

What Are We Not Seeing?

The American Civil Liberties Union, an an email today, writes:

What would the current conversation around Walter Scott** be if there hadn’t been this video? What would you be reading in the news? And how often does this happen in America, unseen by a camera?

Camera_Unseen**The ACLU shares a NYT story about the Walter Scott case, complete with video. They add “Please read more and watch, if you haven’t seen it yet. But be warned, it’s graphic.”

Seeing on the most basic level.

Going beyond the one incident — Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, notes that the Walter Scott case helps illustrate the picture we don’t have as a nation…

  • …because the data has not been collected or shared.
  • …because the public narrative was designed to distract.
  • …because too many of us for too long couldn’t quite see.

In a way, he asks us to “twist our necks” to see what we might otherwise miss.

Edwards writes:

It’s déjà vu. And it’s also a nightmare.

Police gunning down unarmed black men and boys is an American horror film that keeps getting replayed. Except that it isn’t a movie you can turn off: It’s a painful, outrageous, and unacceptable reality….

Sadly, we only know part of the story because we have no uniform, comprehensive reporting requirements of police shootings. The data just doesn’t exist. Indeed, even after the many discussions of police force generated by these incidents in recent months, and notwithstanding the DOJ’s documentation of widespread problems around use of force in Cleveland and the use of unreasonable force and racial profiling in Ferguson, we have not been able to reconcile the mandate of fair, constitutional, and humane law enforcement with the current status of American policing.
— read the full article, Walter Scott’s Killing Is a Direct Result of the Current State of Policing in America Today

“The data just doesn’t exist” (Read more on this — “Scant Data Frustrates…“) There is plenty more “to see” on the ACLU website, if you have not already.

Have we “gone to the trouble to see” what needs seeing in order to make real liberation manifest in our world?

What still needs seeing? and What form must our trouble take?

Can we help one another see? How?

We counted 5 on the evening of April 8. Tonight, we count….

Making the Omer Count

from On the Road to Knowing: A Journey Away from Oppression
A key element in the journey from liberation to revelation is understanding the workings of oppression, and our part in them. We cannot work effectively to end what we do not comprehend.

So this year, moving from Passover to Shavuot, I commit to learning more about how oppression works and how liberation is accomplished. I invite others to join me:

Let’s work together, as we count the Omer, to make this Omer count.

Thoughts and sources welcome.

JourneyOmer

Share this graphic to encourage others to participate.

A Meditation

Aware that we are on a journey toward knowing God — from liberation to revelation — I undertake to know more today than I did yesterday about the workings of oppression.

I bless and count [full Hebrew blessings in feminine and masculine address]:

Blessed are You, God, Ruler/Spirit of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.

Today is six days in the Omer.
Hayom shishah yamim la-omer.

In the spirit of the Exodus, I pray for the release of all whose bodies and spirits remain captive, and pledge my own hands to help effect that liberation.

2 comments

  1. […] “…’it is his capacity to twist his neck,’ to turn his face in wonder and questioning, that brings him the voice of God,” said Avivah Zornberg (“Trouble to See“). […]

  2. […] is the original post, from 2015, exploring the idea of taking “trouble to see” following the death of Walter […]

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