Kol Nidrei Night, 5777/October 11, 2016
I heard from several of you that the visual aids in last week’s sermons were the very best part, which I am choosing to take as a compliment. I thought I’d bring one into this evening’s sermon as well.
It’s a copy of “This is Where I Live,” a 2016 release from Soul legend William Bell, and side one, track one provides us with a foundational text for this evening’s teaching. The song is called “The Three of Me,” and it begins with these words:
Last night I had a dream
and there were three of me.
There was the man I was, the man I am,
and the man I want to be.
I love that image. Life’s journey is one on which we can and do grow, and at a certain point that growth is so complete that we are essentially someone else. Furthermore, this feat can be accomplished multiple times in the course of one’s life.
I find this observation about our capacity for growth and change all the more interesting in light of this fact: William Bell also wrote the iconic Albert King hit, “Born Under a Bad Sign.” Maybe you’ve heard it: “Born under a bad sign. Been down since I began to crawl. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”
Here’s that album cover, decorated with a variety of symbols representing chance, fate, and bad luck. Snake Eyes. A Black Cat. Friday the Thirteenth. Poison.
The two songs, penned more than fifty years apart by the same writer, offer two very different views of the human condition, don’t they? One celebrates our capacity to take charge of our destiny; the other bemoans our lot as hapless victims of circumstance. That divergence is memorable, and worth exploring. Let’s do so by connecting these two songs to a third, one which I hope is becoming familiar to you:￼
Min hametzar karati yah, anani bamerchav yah….