#tbt: Lulav and Esrog


Dear little me:

Right now, you trust Tatty and feel safe in his arms as he teaches you. Soon, you’ll feel smothered by his embrace and his lessons.

Shaking the lulav and esrog, you were told, is a representation of gathering all kinds of Jews from all corners of the earth in service of god. It’s a celebration of all the many different kinds of ways to serve god, a reminder that god appreciates all kinds of devotion, and a representation that when held together, these different people and methods and lives create a beautiful whole.

The lessons you were taught in kindergarten about this inclusivity won’t always match up with what you see happening around you, with the rifts between and among various groups of Jews. And soon, you’ll start to wonder why only Jews are included in this symbolic ritual, why non-Jews are excluded from the narrative about different kinds of people forming a beautiful whole.

Dear little me:

I wish I could go back and tell you it’s okay to hear the things your parents and teachers wanted you to believe, and think they’re wrong. I wish I could tell you you’re not a bad person for questioning the exclusion embedded in declarations of inclusion. I wish I could show you how to shake the lulav without that look of intense, serious concentration, with excitement and joy instead. 

I wish I could look into your four-year-old eyes and tell you all of this.

I wish I could give you the strength to deal with what’s coming, and I’m so sorry that I can’t.

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