Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beha'alotcha (Wicks in the Wind)

I am indebted to a connection pointed out to us at Yeshivat Hadar by my teacher, the brilliant Dr. Devorah Steinmetz. In her literary approach to the narratives of our tradition, Dr. Steinmetz pointed out that the use of the word matar in most instances in the Torah are a type of punitive dew or rain. That is, something Ha---Shem sends as a punishment for haughtiness or some other infraction committed on either divine kingship or, in modern parlance, the categorical imperative.

Using this as my starting point, I've constructed a poem as a dialogue between Ha--Shem and B'nei Israel with HaShem instructing us to be holy, to keep moving toward Him and evolving, and with us kvetching about our material needs and dwelling in the constricted and limiting idealization of a past reality, rather than embracing this moment. B'nei Israel have a ball recalling all that was so glorious in Egypt, but, as Proust reminds us in his A la recherche du temps perdu memories are hardly ever authentic or truthful. A spiritual teaching that I have always sought to embrace is that this moment is really all that has significance and our halacha, whether obviously or not, imputes this message as much as any other.

Shabbat Shalom!
Beha’alotcha (Wicks in the Wind)

G-d: in your making go up,
into clouded cover,
night fire.
It’s all but a parochet,
a veil,
to tear through.
It’s all but a
To tear through,
To seduce Me.

Rest as wick; I’ll be your oil.
Stand wax still
O ye vessels
For My flame—
Spots for My sun.

B’nei Israel: Great…but who might feed us meat?
zacharnu et-ha eating!
Gah-gah-gah garlic, free-fish,
Cucumbers encumber mind’s eye in
Watermelon leaking leeks,
Hills of coriander seed.
Let’s grind it in a mill
like oil cake
drenched in morning dew.

G-d: Wicks in the wind!
Wicks in the wind!
If not... I’ll damn you in dew.

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