Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shamanic Rabbi

I didn't know who I was really listening to at first, my sides were hurting from laughing so much. Was this George Carlin's brother, separated at birth? Who knows? But the humor was a pleasant surprise for me.

I had initially decided to see Rabbi Gershon Winkler because, like me, he was once an ultra-orthodox Jew who found that way of conformative lifestyle rather stifling and so he upped and left his familiar surroundings in search of something that spoke to him. And what seemed to have done the trick was learning from native Americans . He seemed to find a Jewish parallel with them much as I did with the Sikh community. Ah, yes, we are all One.

And our hostess, Maya, made me feel welcome when all this healthy looking great food was put on the table for the taking. She told me "don't wait - just eat. Here you don't need manners." Great. I can joyfully pig out.

The rather large crowd that had come to hear him at Maya's house on beautiful Caspi Street (her balcony has a panoramic view of Jerusalem's Old City and beyond) was eclectic as well, ranging from hippies, to ultra-orthodox, new-age orthodox, a good mix in ages, you name it, they were there.

Winkler began by singing/chanting a Hebrew prayer, all the while banging on an native-American drum and we sang/chanted along with him. He began from the beginning - the story of Judaism. I'll try to remember as best I can his dialogue and reproduce it here.

"Abraham was the first Jew. And people (whose religion was based on a goddess) were curious about this new religion because Abraham was like - 'well we have ONE law, and it's especially for men!

People: "Oh really? Because all we have are like goddesses."

Abraham: "Quick Ishamael, get me the knife!"

So people liked the Jewish religion but from afar. That's why there aren't so many Jews around.

God told Abraham that he will give him land just for him and his descendents.

Abraham: "Really?"

And Abraham flipped through photos of Montana with its beautiful rivers, and the Rocky Mountains and the Swiss Alps and exotic places and got very excited as he and his family trekked through the middle east. And then he saw a sign "Abraham's Land."

A land - full of - rocks.

"Oh God, well, thanks. I just LOVE rocks (giving his wife a look). I love rocks so much I will give you a new name - The Rock, and by the way, me and my wife are just gonna head down to Egypt for something to eat, OK?"

which brought tons of laughter from the audience...

"And during the days of King Solomon there wasn't any war. Know why? Because he had 1,000 wives!!!

King Solomon: "Honey, I'm going off to war now."
Wife 835: "Oh no you're not" pulling him back in. "You were with Her yesterday, today's MY turn."

"and Moses was the greatest prophet because when he saw the burning bush, he knew he didn't know! He was a Buddhist!" (more laughter)

"When someone dies and he finally goes up to heaven and knows the truth, he's kvetching 'oh I shouldn't have done this, I should have done that, why did this happen, now I know, oh no, why didn't I do this," etc. etc. and God doesn't want all these people kvetching so he sends them back down to earth again to be reincarnated. Why? God wants peace and quiet up there!"

"So heaven is actually hell! And earth is hell, isn't it? Why do people get sick? Because PEOPLE make you sick. But life on earth could be heaven too. If you're sitting in a garden you could smell the fragrant flowers and think this is heaven or you could be swatting flies and think this place is terrible."

I enjoyed nearly two hours of his non-stop talk and left with a smile still glued to my face from laughing so much. And I didn't care if the bus driver thought I was nuts for smiling to myself.

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