Tag Archives: Poetry

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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 →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

On Being Caught in the Thicket

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. The ram’s horn is silent at first As is the ram. Caught in the thicket, Waiting for Abraham to lift his head and see, It appears at the last minute, Out of nowhere, When it’s almost too late. Of course, it was… 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 →