A Torah Poem – by Reb Jeff



(Exodus 21-24)

Rules for eating matzah and
Rules for loving strangers
Stand beside the return of lost oxen,
Seducers who must marry maidens, and
A teenager stoned for calling her mom, “Bitch.”

The legal jumble wants to be sorted
Like a box of samples and scraps.
What is cherished, what discarded,
What left-overs are sewn into my
Patchwork acceptance of the yoke?

When I carelessly cut selvage
While trimming ancient offense
Fraying edges mock my rebellion.
How I hate it when they ask,
“Did you get that pattern from a book?”

The way the quilt looks from a distance
Is governed by details up close.
When the smallest intentions
Turns accident into murder
We best be careful of the stitch work.

I attend to rules for bringing offerings
And rules for pressing seams
With loyalty, finesse and holy dread.
My ear is pierced for loving too dearly
My service to reclaiming this text.


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