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LIVE YOUR WAY INTO THE ANSWER An Exodus poem by Sue Swartz

we who desire
Because against this, that
Because the angels of our better nature
And the angle of days to come
Because as we said goodbye            As we say goodbye

Because this is the book of bursting through
And the book of coming undone
Because bricks without straw
Because bruise without respite

And the compulsion to be heard
Because the crack in everything
And because the darkening

Because the darkness
And the daughter of Pharaoh in every generation
Because the distance between
And the dog,
               chained in some fool’s backyard: barking and barking—
Because the dream of crossing

Because the ego that dreamt         (its elliptical nature)
And the events of the night—

Because the faceless god of frogs & thunder
And the faithful god of time
Because the fear             And the fire            And the fissure
Because glimpses of—

And Heisenberg’s uncertainty

Because I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread
Because I-will-be sent me to you
Because if this, then that              And imagine all the people

And in the interstices, hidden

Because joining one thing to another
Because knee deep in muddy water
Because the light of a candle
in the heart of the sun

Because locusts & lice            And the long strange trip
Because love supreme                  And the luminous underneath

Because mantles marked             Because metaphoric
Meteoric             And the middle that will not hold
Because naked ambition And nothing as it was
And the one who takes off her shoes

And the one and the one and the one—
Because of this permeable world

And the photo that spreads beyond the frame
Because the point of no return        And the portable palace
Because the protests in Tahrir Square
     (All that purposeful unbecoming)

Because the quotidian
Because the radical
Because the sea filled with baskets
And seeing an angel in the marble, he carved
Because starry, starry night              And a steel bar can be bent
Because suitcases filled with suffering
Because the touchable—
Because the unleavened—         And the vertical drop.
Because what is in your hand
And what I am is what I am       And when you drew the map
And where we’re going, there’s no—

Because who will live in our house
And who will memorize our story
And why we’re whispering          Why we’re whispering
          as we say goodbye

Because xenophobia
Because you and you and you
Because zealotry and zeitgeist

And the Zen koan: one drop reveals the ocean
Because zero & zilch & zip
Because the zany zookeeper
          unlocked the cage—

from we who desire: Poems and Torah riffs by Sue Swartz

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Passover book encourages participation Author says questioning is key

The Jewish Standard speaks to Sharon Marson about More Than Four Questions. She talks about her love of questions, and of how the book was shaped by her conversations with her students.

The author said the kind of questions children ask “depends on the type of child. The more concrete thinker will ask questions about ritual or the sequence of what we do and why. The more reflective type of child will ask open-ended questions like ‘What does it mean to be really free?’

“We need both parts,” she said. “Questions are a vehicle of exploration. By asking questions, we deliver the message that asking is valued. We don’t have all the answers, but we can figure things out.”

Marson’s book includes several kinds of questions. On the bottom of each page, beneath the child’s question, is one from Marson herself, challenging the teenagers and adults at the table to think more deeply about each issue. On the other side of the page, below the children’s responses, are relevant quotations and sources. Further reflections on some of the issues are included at the back of the book.

Marson suggests that it would be helpful to review the book before the holiday begins, flagging questions that might be particularly appropriate for each seders’ participants.

“It would be so exciting if people were able to learn something from the book, or be triggered by something from it, that deepens their connection to God or strengthens their [commitment] to strive for a more sensitive way of living,” she said.