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I know, I know, the correct reference would have been “Of Human Bondage”, but I’m a little too committed to my homage to Montaigne at this point so I can’t really change my title format now, can I?

I had intentions of making this weekend amazing.  I had planned on leaving after work Friday night to go to the tsunami region, then spending most of the day on Saturday volunteering, followed by hitting up an onsen (hot spring).  Then on Sunday, I was supposed to go to various parties in various parks in Tokyo to get drunk while looking at the beautiful sakura (cherry blossoms), which are in full bloom this week.  This weekend was going to be the remedy for the depression cause by the forced extension of my business trip.

Alas, the powers that be had other plans.  I have now spent the ENTIRE WEEKEND in my office, which does not have a window.  While every single other human being in Tokyo has been reveling in the natural beauty of the sakura, Japan’s ubiquitous natural wonder, I have been reading and re-reading contracts related to patents and trademarks, while attending meetings conducted entirely in Japanese by middle-aged men who speak way too fast and mumble way too much for my comprehension to be anywhere over 30% (not that it would be much higher if they spoke clearly–my technical lawyer Japanese is considerably worse than my flirting-with-a-cute-girl-while-mildly-drunk Japanese). 

How ironic that this weekend my people celebrate their freedom from oppression, while I feel enslaved by my clients and my bosses.  I actually called my family from my office while they were celebrating Passover, and it made me more homesick than I think I’ve ever been.  It’s funny–I’ve spent so much time away from America in the past 12 years and I rarely get homesick, because most of the time I’m having some sort of adventure.  But now that I’m just working, the adventure element isn’t there and I miss home and my family.  I love Pesach and the seder and all of its traditions: the wine, the food, the songs, the exegeses (I used to like to refer to an exigesis as an “exit Jesus, stage left”), the leaning to the left.  And since I didn’t have time to write a real blog entry this week, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite Pesach traditions: the family Dayenu poem.

For those of you who aren’t MOT or otherwise in the know, “Dayenu” means “it would have been enough,” and is a popular Pesach song.  The lyrics are basically saying that G-d didn’t have to do all of the wonderful stuff he/she/it did; even just doing the first thing or two would have been enough.  For example, if G-d had freed the Jews from Egypt but hadn’t parted the Red Sea, it would have been enough.  If G-d had parted the Red Sea but hadn’t led the Jews in to Israel, it would have been enough.  If G-d had led the Jews into Israel, but hadn’t given our people control of all of the world’s money and media, it would have been enough.

Of course, this song is bullshit.  Do you think the author of that song ever met any actual Jews?  We’re never satisfied, constantly kvetching about our situation and wanting more.  Our motto has never been “it would have been enough”; it has always been “why does all this shit happen to us?”  Hence, in my family’s seder, in addition to singing “Dayenu”, we read the poem “Lo Dayenu!”–it would not be enough!  For a long time, I thought my aunt wrote the poem herself because she included it in our family Haggadah, an incredible piece of literature written in the mid-80s with a large focus on Soviet Jewry (and yes, we still use it to this day).  I recently found out that she borrowed it from somebody else, so unfortunately I can’t give proper copyright attribution.  If you’re the original author, feel free to email me before shooting me a DMCA take-down notice, and we can work on negotiating the proper royalty-free license.  Anyhow, the proper way to recite this poem is to have a different person around the seder table read each verse, and in between each verse everybody is to shout “Lo Dayenu!” and mercilessly beat the people adjacent to them with green onions (apparently this is some kind of Sephardic tradition).  Without further ado, I give you…

LO DAYENU

If we were to liberate the Jews in their homeland, but not allow Palestinians their right to self-determination, it would not be enough;

If Palestinians enjoyed self determination, but other indigenous peoples did not, it would not be enough;

If indigenous peoples had self determination, but racism and immigrant bashing still existed in America, it would not be enough;

If we ended racism and xenophobia, but did not end the second-class status of women and the oppression of gays and lesbians, it would not be enough;

If we ended sexism and homophobia, but did not work for disarmament, it would not be enough;

If we were to disarm the nations, but did not end the pollution poisoning our planet, it would not be enough;

If we were to end the pollution poisoning our planet, but did not prevent some people from wallowing in luxury while others starved, it would not be enough;

If we were to equalize the distribution of wealth, but did not end police brutality and the construction of “sophisticated” prisons, it would not be enough;

If we were to end outright police brutality, but did not free the daring poets from their jails, it would not be enough;

If we freed the poets from their jails, but did not understand the poetry, it would not be enough;

If we liberated men and women to understand poetry, but prevented them from exploring their inner ecstasies, it would not be enough;

If we encouraged men and women to explore their inner ecstasies, but did not allow them to love each other in brotherhood and sisterhood, it would not be enough.

How much then are we duty bound to struggle, work, share, think, plan, feel, organize, space-out, dream, love, hope and be?! It will never be enough!

Makes me smile every year.  Anyhow, that’s it.  I’m still at work (it’s now 8:30 PM on Sunday) and I’m likely to be here for quite a bit longer.  Happy Pesach and/or Easter to y’all and I hope to get back on the writing horse in a week or two!  Oh, and if you found this blog entry by googling “bondage”, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  Send me an email at sfloveaffair@gmail.com and we can discuss further…

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