Amichai’s Top 50/50 “GO UP MOSES”
“My people, let pharaoh go
You don’t need him; you don’t need his tricks, you don’t need his trinkets
Let pharaoh go
Pharaoh doesn’t want, but he needs you
My people, let pharaoh go
Without you there is no pharaoh
So all you have to do to let him go is to let him go
Just wake up tomorrow morning and say
Bye, pharaoh… Honey
You been down too long
You been down too long….
Go up, Moses, you been down too long
Go up, Moses, sing your freedom song”
I started this journey 50 days ago as Passover began and I was a day ahead of turning 50. “Go Down Moses” was the kickoff to my 50 day journey of the soundtrack of my life so far. This final song was not what I originally planned but half way through the journey my friend Jill Soloway sent it to me and blew my mind. It is the song for this moment, this day. Roberta Flack recorded it in 1971, part of her ‘Quiet Fire’ album – calling us out and calling us up.
On this Sabbath day, the Eve of Shavuot, our story goes that Moses climbed up Mount Sinai to receive the Torah and seal the deal between Divinity and us people – bound to live together and co-create a better world. Well, go up Moses. Again. Let’s all go up.
Roberta Flack isn’t just talking to the African American community fed up with the systemic racism and abuse that is at the core of our reality. She is talking to each and every one of us, within our inner selves of internalized oppression and fear and each and every one of us in this country and the world. Step up. Our inner Pharaonic reality requires us to say enough. It’s on us to take on the tyrants of today.
“At the heart of Judaism is a belief so fundamental to Western civilization that we take it for granted, yet it is anything but self-evident. It has been challenged many times, rarely more so than today. It is the belief in human freedom. We are what we choose to be. Society is what we choose to make it. The future is open. There is nothing inevitable in the affairs of humankind…” – wisely written by his Lordship Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
“Am I clear this morning?” Roberta asks. Sacks asks.
Yes. You are. We are. Thank you. We will remember.
“We’ve been down too long.
My people, let pharaoh go.”
May tonight bring revelations.
Let the journey go on, many more songs of freedom to go. Many more joys. Love songs. Life songs.
Thank you for listening. That’s a wrap.
Shabbat Shalom. חג שמח
Photo: Art by Zachary Wager Scholl
Amichai’s Top 50: Soundtrack of my life. 4/20-6-8 2019/Passover-Shavuot 5779