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Teshuvah

  Photo Sasha Freemind on unsplash “Repentance,” like most words that have come into the English language from Latin, is thin on emotion, feeling. There is something cerebral about it that does not capture the sorrow, the regretting, the regressing to the fervored childlike promises of I’m sorry, I won’t do it again. But lashuv , to go back, means not only ”to regret,” it also means “to return.” This translation captures the hope that going back is always possible: going back to a pre-lapsarian world in which our wrongdoings are gone, in which we have not yet missed the mark ( cheit , the word for sin, being an archery term), in which broken relationships are healed without leaving scars, in which we ourselves are innocent again, having said No to the apple and the knowledge of good and evil. Yet somehow the notion of returning implies a place or a state of being to which we can return, as we move from the here and now to the there and then. But can we? How do I return when I am lo
Recent posts

Something About Spring

There's something about spring.... Trees and shrubs madly competing to get all their leaves out first, big, fat, lush; grass turning too green, then being outdone by the too-yellow of a carpet of dandelion; tulips burning up the near-empty garden beds with hues of deep purple and barnfire reds. It's all somehow too much. And people, too, popping out of their sealed houses, shivering in thin shirts and sandals with grim determination, trying to ignore the hard spring breeze. In all that rushing towards new life, that frenzy seemingly shared by all living things, with the swallows repairing last year's nests, and the Canada Geese squatting in the middle of the hayfield, or even by the side of the road to get the new crop of children out ... in all that there is also denial, a forgetting of what fails to return, what has quietly ceased during autumn and winter: plants that went underground and have failed to rise again, animals whose last breath rode away on the stiff winds of

The Shells of Our Solitude

                              art by Shelley Yampolsky Inside the shells of our solitude edges and contours disappear. What use is skin without an other leaning in. When we are free to love again the deep dark pool of me will flow into the deep dark pool of you like water going home into the sea.

We're okay!!

We're okay, we say, we're well; zooming to see friends, it's great,  we're smiling, waving, smiling.  Smiling. And all around our elders trapped in airless rooms with only one way out: in body bags. Curbside the freezer trucks are waiting. Remember what it's like to hug,  to kiss, to be so close we dreamt each other's dreams? Will we remember--if we live? And will the woods be green again this spring? Will God forgive us our sins?

Translation

          "Parade of Planets," George Abramishvili You raise your hand; is it to strike me or to let your fingers learn the curve my cheekbones make? You say Hello, and I am lost to know whether you mean Hello, I’m here, Hineini, or you mean Hell, no, don’t bother me, I’m busy, what would I want with you. Always I know to read the horses’ neighs, the dog’s tail when it wags, the cat’s meow (it always means, where’s dinner?); I can read the rabbit tracks in snow, the tree leaves in the spring, the tea leaves in the cup; seasons, snowstorms, turnips and tulips wanting water. Sometimes I even read the mind of God. Only the words and gestures humans make I cannot fathom when they aim for me. Is there a dictionary, a translation guide that helps explain motions and moves the hearts of other people make in this direction? What does it mean? What say you? Who are you? Who am I? Somewhere between these questions is the answer. Words as words are easy. Words from you to him, t

Fearman's

A cool day in October, but warm inside the car. Left turn onto Derry, then a right onto Appleby Line. Heading south, down from the Escarpment, the thin road winding past horse farms and other large properties with houses set back, dotting, as they say, the landscape. The leaves are turning. Cross the 407, and the single-family homes are replaced by large parking lots fronting commercial plazas, and mid-rise apartment buildings. Keep going south to Harvester, turn into the Tim Horton’s parking lot. Here. Clutching Tehillim I cross the road and place myself on the sidewalk next to the open gate into the compound that looks like a large manufacturing facility, many low buildings made of concrete with corrugated roofs. No windows. A chimney from which rises white steam or smoke. I can see the 18-Wheeler sitting at the intersection. I open the book. Adonai is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. In lush pastures He makes me lie, Beside tranquil waters He leads me. Then the vehicle i

Pesach 5780

I have always loved God for rebuking the angels when, seeing the Egyptians drown in the Sea of Reeds (Talmud, Megillah 10b and Sanhedrin 39b), they burst into song. But the Israelites, newly and safely arrived on the other shore, also sing triumphantly (Shirat Hayam), completely oblivious to the fact that in order to save them and nudge them toward a better life, God has had to sacrifice so many of his other children, and is weeping at their loss. And God is silent. In 5780 the plague is not only killing the Egyptians, it is killing both the Egyptians and the Israelites. And everyone else, too. At the seder we are to experience what our ancestors went through, as though we had actually been there. At this year’s seder I found myself reliving the story of the Israelites, and the story of the Egyptians at the same time. Maybe the latter more so. Mitzraim, the narrow place we must pass through to emerge as free and responsible individuals, is here. Right here. And right now. Do yo