Tag Archives: Poetry

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Shlach Lecha/Not a Sound

(Parshat Sh’lach  (Numbers, 13:1-15:41) And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation said to them,  “I wish we had died in the land of Egypt or that we had already died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2) Fear is not an animal. It is not warm. It does not bend. Once the ocean bent beneath my hand. Was it that simple? Yes. The crabs… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Shemot / Ignition

Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight. Why is the bush not consumed by its burning?” (Exodus 3:3) God’s memory burns in capital letters and your doubt is the kindling its million mouths reach for. The generations in your blood are a coral necklace, each bead worn blunt by grinding years, desert blush riding high on the surface. Your clothed feet, your naked questions can take you… Read Article →

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כַּהֶגֶה בְּיַד הַמַּלָּח: “Like a Helm in the Hand of an Old Salt” — or Not?

In Ashkenazi tradition, a liturgical poem, or piyyut,[i] recited on the eve of Yom Kippur begins, כִּי הִנֵּה כַּחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיּוֹצֵר, בִּרְצוֹתוֺ מַרְחִיב וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְקַצֵּר, כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְּיָדְךָ חֶסֶד נוֹצֵר: “As clay in the hand of the potter, who thickens or thins it at will, so are we in Your hand, Guardian of love.”[ii] The piyyut continues with a series of other similes for our status vis-à-vis God, including the… Read Article →

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Mourner’s Kaddish: Grasping for Praise in Sorrow

Yitgadal, v’yitkadash Shemei Raba…Exalted and Sanctified is Gd’s great name. These words open every  Kaddish prayer that we recite. They are particularly poignant in the Mourner’s Kaddish-Kaddish Yatom. Words of praise are recited at times of great sorrow. No mention of death or destruction, and word after word of praise written in an ancient Aramaic. Why now? Why do we recite these words at the least obvious moments? The Mishna… Read Article →