A Drash for Mishpatim 5771 – A Recycled Idea, Told in a Different Way
by Marc Mangel
A longer than usual drash and somewhat political
Next: Some things we said in the 60s
Keep the faith, baby
If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem
Different strokes for different folks
Today is the first day of the rest of your life
A Song We Listened To “Alice’s Restaurant”
It recounts a true Thanksgiving Day adventure as a protest against the Vietnam War draft.
On Thanksgiving, November 25, 1965, the 18-year-old Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins, 19, were arrested for illegally dumping some of Alice’s garbage after discovering that the town dump was closed for the holiday. Two days later, they pled guilty in court before a blind judge.
Fastforward to 1967: Guthrie’s being called up for the draft, and the surreal bureaucracy at the New York City induction center at 39 Whitehall Street. Because of Guthrie’s criminal record for littering, he is first sent to the Group W Bench, where those draftees wait who cannot be inducted except under a “moral waiver“, then outright rejected as unfit for military service because of this criminal record.
Guthrie’s advice “If you’re in a situation like that there’s only one thing you can do and that’s walk into the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say “Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice’s restaurant.”. And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.”
1) If one of us goes home tonight or tomorrow and gives to the HFLA then it is tzedaka
2) And if three of us do it, they may think it is organized
3) But imagine if each one of us gave to HFLA and wrote to two people we know – outside of Santa Cruz – this message
“Yesterday [or this last Shabbat if you are writing later in the week] was Shabbat Misphatim. In honor of the great principle of free loans, I encourage you to send a donation, size does not matter, to your local HFLA, and send this message on to two more people, one in your community and one outside”.
Imagine if we did that. We’d have The Mishpatim Movement.
And if you don’t want to be part of the movement: This week Chabad sent out a drash about Mishpatim that noted “Give a loan and open the Heavenly Gates”
Today is indeed the first day of the rest of our lives. And you can begin it by opening the Heavenly Gates. Do so.