Monday, June 21, 2010

"In the Space Between You and Me"

Laying by my bed is the siddur written by my friends Patrick and Michael at PunkTorah. In their bracha for tzitzit, they thank the Shekhina for teaching us how to clothe ourselves. By fringes. By corners. By confirming and enforcing that our garments and ourselves have borders.

As a feminist postcolonialist postmodernist anarchist I'm not comfortable with borders. In myself there are no borders between me as a man and a Jew or as a Jew and a heterosexual or as a hetersexual and a Vancouverite. I believe the borders between genders or sexuality or religions or cultures are fluid. How can I thank Hashem for borders?

Because borders are neccesary. And they are real. Life has borders, in the body of the mother and the body of the earth, in silences. The earth has borders, a fact I am constantly reminded of by the shelter of the nights sky.

And there is a border between me and you. Tracey Chapman said "there's a fiction in the space between". Sometimes. Sometimes that space disappears. In shared fear or anger or joy. In sex. In love. And when that happens, when we cease to be these inclosed seperate individuals something wonderful happens. But these experiences are shared. If I unilaterally decide to forget the border between me and you then I am an invader. The person who crosses that border can be a lover or a saint. Or a sociopath. If I forget the sanctity of your otherness I have committed an act of violence against you and I have desecrated the G-d who has established that border. My borders have been crossed and tonight I realized how much I don't want to ever invade someone else's borders. In any way. If I expect you to no longer be other but to be me; that is violence. If I am only for that self and forget the otherness of the other, "what am I?" to quote Hillel. At the same time if I lose the borders of my self by my self -"if I am not for myself"- well then "who is for me?"

There are borders between people and that is a good thing. Hashem asks us to put borders around ourselves to remember to careful in overstepping them. Tonight I violated that mitzvah. I don't want to forget my borders, those places I don't have the right to cross. I don't want to forget that even those I feel closest too have boundaries.

And by the way, if this sounds like an apology to someone, it is.

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