Where the Action Is

Excerpt from Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life by Rabbi Irwin Kula

[Maybe] it was actually an act of love and mercy to disperse the people of Babel. The hope now was that, rather than destroying each other for the sake of being one, human beings could thrive, unfold, create breathtaking poetry in thousands of tongues, and spread light all over the earth. Rather than only One, there now would be an infinite number of ways to interpret and understand life.

One of the first nursery rhymes we recite to our children isn't so different from that biblical allegory. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again." It's an edgy tale, even for grownups. From a young age, our deepest fear is that we're Humpty Dumpty, that we'll fall and shatter into so many pieces that no one will be abe to put us back together again; that we'll be dipspersed across the face of the earth and be alone in our brokenness. The story makes us wonder if we haven't already fallen and become irreparably splintered. The ditty makes light of that very real fear and helps soften it.

But what if we taught this story differently? Maybe Humpty Dumpty jumped. Maybe he was stuck in his own Tower of Babel on top of that wall and wanted desperately to get down. Maybe the "great fall" was actually a deepening and expansion of his own consciousness—a startling vision of his many selves. What if Humpty didn't want to be what the king wanted him to be? He didn't want to be put back together again; to be an egg so full of the promise of life but giving birth to nothing. He didn't want to reach for the heavens; he wanted to be down on earth where the action is. What if what really happened is that he hatched?