Some 'Bowie Torah'
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
(In the spirit of my friend, holy brother Stuart Wax, who is fond of quoting Jerry Garcia and Rebbe Nachman in the same breath, here is my attempt at doing something similar.)
וְטַפְּכֶם אֲשֶׁר אֲמַרְתֶּם לָבַז יִהְיֶה, וּבְנֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ הַיּוֹם טוֹב וָרָע--הֵמָּה, יָבֹאוּ שָׁמָּה; וְלָהֶם אֶתְּנֶנָּה, וְהֵם יִירָשׁוּהָ.
"Moreover, your little ones, about whom you said would be a prey, and your children, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil--they shall go in there [to the Land of Israel] and to them will I give it, and they shall possess it." ~Deuteronomy 1:39
This was Moses speaking to the Children of Israel, making his farewell address immediately before his death and subsequent passage of the Israelite nation into the Promised Land. In this verse he was reviewing all their misdeeds that led to their wandering for 40 years in the desert, particularly regarding the sin of the Ten Spies and unbelief in the goodness of the Land. After the spies had delivered their negative report, the people mourned and wept, and said that if they were to try to enter the Land, they would be defeated and their children would be taken captive.
I heard this, attributed to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: The word "לָבַז," "prey" or 'taken captive' in the content of this verse, comes from the word "בִּזָּה" - spoils of war. But it is also etymologically related to the word "בִּזָּיוֹן," 'contempt.'
In this context, it means that 'your children, whom you held in contempt, will be the ones to inherit the land.' This held a particular poignancy during the time of the generation gap, when the older generation regarded their hippie offspring as lost and worthless.
And when I heard this, I couldn't help but be reminded of the song "Changes," by David Bowie:
"And these children that you spit on As they try to change their worlds Are immune to your consultations They're quite aware of what they're going through."
RIP David Bowie And Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, zt"l. May their memories be for a blessing.