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Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Hunting of the Moon



After the prayers are done and even before during Seudas Slishi, the third and final meal of the Shabbat, we have already begun searching for it. Scouting parties go out hunting for the moon, passing from block to block and calling to each other.

"No luck here"

"I don't see it."

"No moon."

Past neon lit bodegas where faded malt liquor posters leer from crumbling walls we search like hunters pursuing a quarry in the heavens.

"Not here."

"Maybe the trees are blocking it out."

"I think I saw it behind a cloud."

The city is a crowded place, both in the heavens and the earth, and the buildings from tenements to skyscrapers crowd the heavens too. Trees send out their bare autumn branches, television and cell phone antennas cast their radials up and light beaming from windows and signs, from car headlights and cell phones, from the heels of sneakers to the streetlights cast a net of light pollution up at the sky obscuring the stars themselves. But still the hunt goes on.

At Maariv we pray, 'Umesader Et HaKochavim' 'He Who Designates the Stars' 'U'Bechacham Poteach Shearim' 'And in His Wisdom Opens the Gates' as we think of the stars we do not see and the gates of night opening in the sky we hope will reveal the moon. This is the first moon after the Day of Judgment. The first true moon of a new year.

During Rosh Hashana we studied Mesechta Rosh Hashana and the questioning of the witnesses, who received the same status as those who came to put out a fire, to aid in war and midwives. Feasts were thrown for those men who came from far bearing the news that the new month was here. Those who had seen the moon for themselves were carried on litters even on the Shabbat. And like them here we were hunting for the moon.

Car horns honked as we raced across the street and then back again ahead of beat up Hondas and bright new Lexus'. Crowds passed us laughing and joking on what was for them just another Saturday night and was for us a new beginning. Lone figures moved through the shadows talking on their cell phones to the invisible persons and still through the trees and the rusted iron grates of fire escapes we sought that pale blue and white sphere of moonlight.

When at last we found it at the corner around the block we marched there in a line of men in black lit up by the neon lights of bodegas and restaurants. From a club a harsh pounding rhythm pulses like the beat of a jangling heart. A latino man weighed down in gold jewelery looks at us bemusedly and cars flow by like great colorful tropical metal fish flowing along a black river of road into the night.

Through the buildings the moon looks down on us, white and blue, pale and glowing like a beacon of the extraordinary shining between the ordinary moldy brick of the houses around us. I know I will go home to new news of bombings and terrorism, to outbursts of hate and decay in a world busy destroying itself. 'Keshem Shenai Roked Kenegdecha VeLo Yachol Lingoa Bach; Kach Lo Yochlu Ovai Lingoa Bi Le'Ra' we pray. As I Stretch out to the Moon and Cannot Reach It, So Too May Our Enemies Not Be Able to Reach and Harm Us.'

I reach for the moon but only manage to get an inch nearer to it. We have found the moon but it is far from us still.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wild Applause from other readers!!

ruth2 said...

Very insightful post, and gorgeous photo of the new moon

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