Debbie Friedman’s Ancient Leanings – A Poem for Haftarah Miketz

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I’ve been singing the song Not by Might
for as long as I have memory of Jewish songs.
I’ve learned enough about it to teach
the eager young voices of Southern California
that it’s a secret Hanukah song.
No lights, or oil, or latkes or donuts
just a declaration of spirt over strength –
One of my oldest Jewish memories.
So when the line showed up in the
Haftarah this week – Not by military force
and not by physical strength but by My spirit
I got nostalgic enough to keep
a flame lit for eight nights.
We modernize text with guitar and
the fancy slang of our day, but
we’re still singing text. Ancient text.
This is the chain of Hanukkah that
connects me to the proven exploits of
Kings David and Solomon, and even
to the unproven but even holier adventures
of Father Abraham, and our whole first family.
The children sing, the children dream…
matches up so nicely with the dreams of
Joseph and Pharaoh married in holy text
to the story of Hanukkah via the Rabbis of old
who connected everything so we have
nothing to prove. This one’s for your dream,
Debbie – May we all live in peace.