Aviv

O Aviv, upon your full moon, hinge all of the promises anew. The grains of the barley harvest, are roasted, ground, and sifted. Mixed with oil, a handful of frankincense placed on top. Then, consumed by the flames, it’s smoke arises to Shomayim. Thus, completed, we may partake of the abundance of the harvest.

The sheaf of the first fruits stands as a reminder across the generations. To all who aspire towards righteousness, as upright sheaves, standing in the field. Waiting for the harvest, we seek renewal, when the day arrives for joyful reaping. And, the sheaves will be gathered, waived like lulav branches in the wind. Carried across the lands of the earth, to be planted anew in Yerushalayim.


Pesach offering,
unleavened bread, wine, and guests;
waiting for next year.

Blue Calling

Blue is the color of techeles:
sky blue, looking down from Shomayim.
The ocean, likened unto Torah
flows within our veins,
whether recognized or not,
sometimes, only latent.

Until some rich experience,
a wake up call orchestrated
from He Who sits upon His throne
in His place (makom) gestures,
in a way that the designated angel
understands, and makes its way
to place the holy intuition
within the mind of one
who will be born anew,
as if he always knew
his origin, roots, and mission.

Reflections

I brush the small black spiders

out of my hair in the morning.

These creatures of death seek to retire

between the crevices underneath the baseboards.

My sleepy yawns echo

against the pile of broken bones in the corner,

remnants of my body that cried out in woe,

that broke when I fell upon this stone.

The rays of the sun glisten

upon the airborne dust.

The path of the sun hastens;

I glimpse a view of its brilliance.

The light through the window is golden.

The clarity of my mind is restored.

My tsedokah requests are overflowing,

I have to swim through envelopes to find the door.

Outside, the ice clings to pine needles,

dew covers the hidden manna on the lawn.

The sun’s brilliant rays melt the icicles,

water droplets combine with the dew as one.

I collect the manna – tastes like parfait on my tongue.

A gentle rain from above cleanses my sin.

Ahead of me is a land flowing with milk and honey;

above me is the Star of Jacob, my only kin.

This poem was written circa 2010, for a university poetry class, that was essentially a poetry workshop format. The class was divided in half; each week, half of the class would present poems. This poem was part of a three poem series. Each student’s series was read by the other students prior to class. The class would select one of the three poems to be read. When I presented, the entire class unanimously declared, Reflections as the poem to be read.

Waking Dream

Bolechov Synagogue, courtesy of Bolechow Jewish Heritage Society

“If you are a dreamer, come in.”

– Invitation, by Shel Silverstein

Standing in front of the door, I mustered up the courage to knock. As I was about to do so, I heard a voice from within the building say, “If you are a dreamer, come in.” Instead of knocking, I tried the doorknob. The door was unlocked; I entered into a synagogue, furnished with pews, lamps, an ark for the Torah scroll, and a bimah in the center where the rabbi and cantor were leading a service. I could hardly believe my eyes. I had travelled to Bolekiev, Ukraine from the States, to visit the town where my ancestors had once lived. At that time, the town was Bolechov, Poland, before the end of WW2. Now, instead of finding the caretaker inside of a dilapidated building, as expected, I entered into a world that I had thought vanished a century ago.

Eldridge St. Synagogue, NYC, courtesy of Howie Schnee

Lives in Limbo

“I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.” – Wislawa Szymborska

The darkened hearts of some of our neighbors, who have renounced their humanity will be judged by the Almighty, while I and my brother, hiding in between these walls, will continue to cling to the Ribono Shel Olam, Who has provided this place of refuge for us. We are fortunate enough to be blessed with kind Christian neighbors, who will not permit the darkness to cloud their own sense of judgment, morality and faith. Although this bleak reality (only an appearance of a life in limbo) may cast an occasional shadow of doubt upon our own faith, I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being. And, who knows whether these very walls may have been built for this purpose, to shelter us from the tyranny of the soul that seems to have pervaded the world’s conscience.

Promise

1 Nissan 5781

Running, the tempest behind me,

still present in my thoughts and dreams;

yet, somewhere on the horizon, I can see

in the distance, there is a place serene.

Joyous within myself, outwardly smiling,

my emotions never surface enough to be visible;

perhaps, a trait from my ancestors upbringing,

learned men of books, studying in the shtetl.

My father comprehends the silence,

that his view from heaven always reveals;

although, amidst my own earthly burdens,

much for me still remains concealed.

Yehi ratzon, I will be consoled at last

by the promise of the Final Redemption;

each year that closes the gaps of the past,

brings us closer to our future reunion.

Linear time and eternity merge,

as hours pass into days and years;

in a single glimpse, moments converge,

carrying the weight of golden tears.

The Beis HaMikdash looms visible,

in the inner sanctum of the soul;

a place of solace, clearly recognizable

by the light of the Shepherd’s fold.

Go forth

“Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where G-d was.” – Exodus 20:18, JPS 1917 Tanach

Go forth

into the darkness of the cloud;

an effortless transition

into the sacred realm

of time and space

on Mount Sinai.

Enter the mystery every day,

wherein the way is unknown;

bring back the light of truth,

so that you may be strengthened.

Blue Dye

Like turquoise,

akin to sapphire am I,

techeles blue, I am called.

As lofty as the throne of Elokim;

and, as lowly as the chillazon snail.

Encapsulated within a single thread,

tied around a religious fringe,

reminding the wearer of Shomayim;

and, the ocean of wisdom called Torah.

Comprising the regal clothing of the Kohein Kadol,

surrounding the mishkan (tabernacle) with beauty.

The color of honor chosen for Mordechai,

and the dishonor of the rebel, Korach.

My ancient source has vanished,

only the remnants of shells remain,

found in an archaeological dig;

yet, some look to the cuttlefish.

Such an important mitzvah

for the sake of the tzitzis (fringes);

the pious wait for the true color,

to be discovered, bringing renewal.

Reminisce

I went out to the hazel wood, drawn by the elaborate nomenclature,
of its trunks, branches, and leaves, as if something stirring in the wind
called to my soul. Because a fire was in my head, I needed to find a path, never before taken through these woods.


To my dismay, every way was already trodden with the footsteps
of my predecessors. For, my ancestors have passed by this way, on horseback, in carts, walking side by side. From the shtetls of Europe to the Golden Land of Opportunity. Assimilation entangled me.

Until the woods opened up to a grove swept clean of the debris
from past ages, raked clean by some heavenly angel, who with tears, showed pity towards me and my destiny. I have always searched within and without, above and below for a place to go, that I can call home.

Bittersweet

Chassidism emphasizes the importance of setting aside time for introspection, each and every day, in order to search the soul, for flaws, negative character traits, and the accumulation of unwanted emotions. Yet, there are times when a spontaneous shift occurs, almost as if the soul has a natural element, given to a self cleanse mode, announcing that this moment is an opportune time to reflect, here and now, in an organic way. The moment becomes bittersweet, wherein a spark flames the desire to return to G-d, in a more sincere way, thus eventually giving way to joy.

“Thou didst turn for me my mourning into dancing.”

– Psalms 30:12, JPS 1917 Tanach