Preparing for the Days of Awe
Yalla means Let’s Get On With It
I had a dream. God was sitting in front of the Big Book, figuring who was to be inscribed for a good year, etc., chewing on the end of a pencil. I heard a voice, a specially created voice, unlike other voices yet the words clear. God asked me one and only one question: “what * are * you * going * to * do?”
“About what?” I said.
“About everything,” God said.
“What can I do?” I said.
In my dream, I was laying on my couch in front of the television. I switched on the tube. I was expecting Charlie Rose, but it was Rabbi Tarphon, in robes and sandals. He was sitting at Charlie Rose’s big table and he explained to me: you do not have to do everything, but you do have to do something.
“What can I possibly do by myself?”
The great Hillel was now staring at me from channel nine; he was nineteen inches long and he answered, “in a place where there are no human beings, strive to be a human being.”
“Leave me alone,” I muttered and I headed for the all-night grocery store for a little late night shop. The lot was almost full, as usual, only this time the doors of the store did not open. This store is never closed.
In the cars I saw all the great teachers, looking at me, smiling and waving.
“All right already,” I said to them. “So what am I supposed to do?” Hillel got out of a tan Mitsubishi and said, “love peace, pursue peace. Love human beings, and draw them near. . .” He was holding a basketball and wearing pump Nikes. Rabbi Tarphon stuck his head out of a Ford 4 X 4 and said “the day is short, the work is great, the laborers are sluggish, the reward is much, and the Master is pressing. Yalla, let’s get on with it.”
“Sha!” Hillel said. He looked so funny holding a basketball. “Sha! Don’t separate yourself from your community.”
Sitting in the car with Tarphon was my daughter D as a little girl, she got out of a Jeep Cherokee and Rabbi Tarphon gently helped her to the ground. She came over to me. She was holding a turquoise blue bubble gum cigar that had written on it “it’s a boy.”
“Where did you get that cigar?” I asked D.
“One of the guys gave it to me,” D said. “He gave me a message for you, if you can’t do everything, do something. A good something.”
“Yalla,” she said, “do you know what that means Daddy?”
“Yes,” I said. They all started their engines and raced off, heading east.
We went home. I was thinking about something is worth everything when we believe in it. Hope.
“Daddy, are you afraid of the future?” D asked me. “Do you have hope?”
“No, and yes.”
“Then, yalla, let’s get on with it.”
Having picked up a little street Arabic from Rabbi Tarphon, we headed home.
I awoke with a feeling of clarity — hopeful, confident. We assume hope is about the future. We are, all of us, the hope of the past.
Rabbi James Stone Goodman
United States of America