Friday, January 29, 2010

Vayera: Une poignée de suie

Lately I have been very taken by the work of Rabbi Alan Lew, z''l, called the "Zen Rabbi." In his book, The Sound of One G-d Clapping he discusses how his ten years of Zen practice came to influence his subsequent years as a traditional Rabbi.

Having practiced Zen in my late teens and in college and coming to do so again within a normative Jewish framework, Rabbi Lew's work has had an especially profound influence and effect on how I have begun to view Judaism, through the lens of mindfulness and seeing Torah as often functioning on a symbolic level in much of the same way as Japanese ko'an (paradoxical stories that confound students in order to facilitate mindful insights and awareness).

This week I have written a poem in tribute to Rabbi Lew, may his memory be a blessing to all of B'nei Israel and Kol Yoshrei Tevel.


Une Poignée de suie

Une poignée de suie de fournaise
est lancée très haut vers le ciel.
Elle s’étend en poussière,
Sur tout le pays d’Egypte,
Comme du sang en coulant
Dans la mer.

Rashi expliquait plus tard « pour lancer quelque chose
avec force, il faut le faire d’une seule main »

Et je me demande
en attendant de ne pas attendre,
quel est le son d'une seule justice
en frappant?
--
A Fistful of Soot

A fistful of soot from the hearth
is thrown on high, toward the sky.
It extends before exploding in dust
Onto the entire land of Egypt--
like blood flowing through the sea.

Rashi would later explain "to throw something with force,
one must do so with a single hand."

I ask myself, while waiting to not wait,
what is the sound of singular
justice striking?

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