Prudence


“Sing unto the L-RD a new song, and His praise in the assembly of the saints. – Psalm 149:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

Taming the beast within,

so that I may sing, akin

to the songs of the tzaddikim,

who succeed in transcending

the yetzer harah (evil inclination),

that makes so much din,

in an attempt to bring confusion,

upon the soul, and the nation,

by derailing our good intentions,

and luring us into sin.

G-d forbid.

Reflections on a Bris Milah

It’s the middle of the week, two days after Chanukah, one day after the memorial of my father’s transition, according to the Gregorian calendar. I attended a bris this afternoon at the local shul. While standing silently in the last row of a small sanctuary, during the proceedings, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, and the pensive quality of my thoughts, it seemed as if angels were gathered at this auspicious moment. Otherwise, since I had awoken at 1:00 a.m. this morning, and only dozed off for a brief rest at my desk, later in the morning, perhaps, because of lack of sleep, my imagination took flight and fancy, within the realm of the spiritual.

When the infant was named, seemingly so, after a prominent rebbe, I thought of the continuity of tradition across the generations. How my own great great grandfather, who my father is named after, studied under a Chassidic rabbi in Poland, Rabbi Perlow, who passed away in 1943. And, so, not only was the Chassidic heritage broken when my great grandfather immigrated to the U.S.; rather, also, that specific line of chassidism was interrupted; although, Rabbi Schneebalg continued the line of Bolechover Chassidism into the current century. Regardless, the personal connection for me is one only recently resurrected, so to speak, in the dark recesses of my mind, where memories persist, despite the conflagration of the Shoah.

When the infant was ceremoniously brought into the sanctuary, he was placed on a white pillow, wrapped in a bundle, and carried by the presiding rabbi. This occurred after everyone present was asked to stand, and remain standing for the entire proceedings. How apropos, I thought, for the infant to be honored as if being brought as an offering unto H’Shem; for, surely, the intent is for the newly born member of the Jewish people to “offer himself” as a soul committed to the observance of G-d’s commandments in every aspect of his life; and, he will be brought up with that intent. Within the framework of the religious family that he was born into, the customs of our ancestors are preserved, in addition to G-d’s commandments.

heirloom

An unmeasured amount of blessings,

found within these two leather boxes;

a treasure beyond compare to things,

discarded after wear & tear, and disuse.

My tefillin contain the keys to life,

divinely-inspired words for my heart,

to contemplate, while setting aside strife;

and permit my soul to regain its art.

These pearls of lasting value,

bestowed upon me by my mother,

after my father’s transition to shomayim,

so that I can carry on the sacred task.

How many generations were these passed

down from father to son, until I received

them at last, that wearing them might mend

my fractured soul, and renew my strength?

Every morning before sunrise, I bind

the leather straps seven times around my arm;

and, place the second box upon my head,

carefully above the hairline, according to halacha

a repository of tradition, to safeguard my faith.

Seek the Light

Broken unity,

echoes across time,

down through the ages,

as darkness covers this world;

we yearn for reconciliation.

As the day draws near,

our tears become crystal clear,

for the redemption is at hand,

and all across the land,

the fissures of the earth are healed,

as the names of the faithful are sealed,

in G-d’s handwriting, with love,

as we look to the skies Above.

Broken unity, fractured souls,

before darkness takes its toll,

we seek the light, mend our ways.

For we know the day will arrive,

when the dead will arise,

and death itself will be

swallowed up in victory.

Elegy 2

Is it at all possible
for your soul to be lifted up
out of the flames that consumed
your body in the crematorium?
Only ashes now, as a keepsake
that I can not understand,
for our treasure is in heaven,
and your soul is unbound,
by the constraints of the body.
Yet, the question remains
of your place in Olam Haba,
or consignment to an eternity
of the unending pain and suffering
that you had hoped to escape.

In the Depths

“Save me, O G-d; for the waters are come in even unto the soul.”

– Psalm 69:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

I will remain silent within my heart,

while gazing upon the adversity,

until words form from the depths

of my soul that can be spoken.

~~~~~

From within the heart words rise,

as close to life as they may sound,

only a distant glance remains,

as carried by these utterances.

~~~~~

A shattered life, broken dreams,

all re-arranged by a guiding hand

from above Who comforts my soul

during the Aftermath.

Untethered


Washed up on the shores of life,
abandoned by the ships that pass by,
and only comforted by the sun – its rays
giving warmth to the soul.

Is this not the existential truth
discovered by all who seek more
than what this world has to offer?
The dark night will claim the soul,
until released into the light.

Transformation begins
when the soul, untethered
by the sins of yesteryear,
may fly above the flood of emotions,
the yearnings of the heart,
the clinging to the past,
and fallen expectations;
all the crushed hopes,
unrecognized dreams,
unrealized ambitions,
and beautiful sadness
of forbidden pleasures.

Then, the soul is free to explore
within the confines of Eden,
without touching the admixture
of good and evil that taunts
our discernment, and taints
our decisions without mercy,
because sin seeks to rule us;
yet, the godly soul must climb
above all that hinders its sanctity.

Ashes Risen

We will rise from the ashes,
as we have always done,
across the generations.
When the vitriolic verbosity
has reached its peak, and
spills over into persecution,
we will not bow to pressure.

We will not remain silent,
except within our hearts,
when we cry out in prayer.
Happy are those who wait,
until the darkness passes
from this time on earth.