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It’s Surreal, Seeking Something after Rabbi Aaron Panken’s death

It’s Surreal: A Spoken Word Commentary

A plane goes down
A life’s snuffed out
And we’re left wondering why.
Shall we blame God,
As an existential fraud,
Who made my friend drop out of the sky?

Or did the rudder crack?
The engine clog?
Was there a problem with just one brake?
Did the wind suddenly gust?
Or was it just
A fluke accident? A tragic mistake?

We stop to reflect
If he did fully inspect
The plane’s systems, flaps, and its wings,
We need a good reason
At this year-ending season
To make sense of this horrible thing.

Baruch Dayan Emet,
Some will say,
Meaning that God surely must have had a plan.
But this my mind can’t download
As my heart wants to explode
Where’s the sense taking this clergyman?

Did God need a chacham,
A mensch par excellence,
To lead the Yeshiva shel Maala?
But with scholars enough
From the Shoah and such,
Why take us all to the funeral parlor?

God, I’m putting you on notice –
Don’t think I didn’t notice –
(As I sit down to have me a scotch)
That there’s got to be some way,
To figure out what to say.
How this happened during Your watch.

Nope, we don’t have to believe
As we struggle to grieve
That the Holy One works just like this.
Still I’m being quite serious,
Why does the world feel so mysterious?
Why are we left here just to reminisce?

It is just so surreal
I don’t know what to feel
God dammit! This, did You really intend?
He was vibrant and brilliant
Visionary teacher, who made us resilient
He was my classmate, my buddy, my friend.

Isaac Luria was clear
We should have nothing to fear
From broken vessels, shvirat hakeilim
This collateral damage
In a broken world, can be managed
If the sparks we work hard to redeem.

Yet with hearts just so broken
With minds feeling like tokin’,
Just how will we one day get through?
Day by day, slowly but surely
As we place prematurely
Our hearts in a basket of woven scar tissue.

So goodbye, dear young friend
It hurts that this is the end
Know we’ll live through this incomprehensible insanity.
Goodbye to you and your positivity
L’hit to your brilliance and sensitivity
And shalom to your beautiful humanity.