Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Poem for Shavuot by the Editor

Witnesses
Shmuel ben Moshe HaLevi

Seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt
Forty-nine days after God passed over
The firstborn of the Jewish people
The Lord appeared before His chosen
Assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai
And took to Himself His people
As a bridegroom takes his bride
And in token of this vow to husband them
He gave unto the Jews not a ring
But the secret to a holy life--the living Torah.
And every year for 3,316 years now
On this day, the sixth day of Sivan,
The chosen few re-accept the sacred Torah
For every living Jew and every Jew that ever lived
Is said to have been there in spirit
With the six hundred thousand
On that awesome day--witnesses to the One
And only Living God--Blessed be He!

Poet’s/Editor’s Note:  Shavuot is arguably the most important Jewish holiday of the year.  If not for Shavuot, there would be no Jews or Christians, for it was on Shavuot, forty-nine days from the Exodus from Egypt, that God bestowed His Torah upon His chosen people.  It is believed that not just the 600,000 men plus an unknown number of women and children received the Torah that day, but that all of the Jews that ever would live from that day forward were present there in spirit at the base of the mountain.  Every year at this time for the past 3,316 years, observant Jews re-dedicate themselves to and re-accept the Torah, especially the Ten Commandments.  So, this day is not all about cheese blintzes, although they are yummy.

Sadly, many Jews do not mark Shavuot at all, and I daresay most non-Jews are unaware of this significant holiday.  I hope that my poem will serve as a reminder of the importance of God’s greatest gift to the Jews and Christians (perhaps excepting Jesus for the Christians).  We need to return to God’s teachings now more than ever.  Find out more about Shavuot here:  http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/609663/jewish/What-Is-Shavuot.htm.

The poem is comprised of eighteen lines of free verse.  The number 18, or chai meaning “life”, holds great significance for the Jews.  Find out more here:  http://www.jewishanswers.org/ask-the-rabbi-category/mitzvos/charity/?p=3142.  I tried to make the poem proceed in a relentless, driving manner to the glorious climax in the final line, a metaphor for the voice of God crashing down the mountain--emphasis on metaphor, for no words I could ever write could actually achieve this effect. 

I used my Hebrew name for the byline.  Literally translated, my Hebrew name means “In the Name of God son of Moses the Levite”.  The Levites were the assistants to the ancient Jewish Priests.  Chag sameach!

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