February 22, 2020

Lift Your Levites in the Air like You Just Don’t Care – A poem for parsha Beha’alotcha

…sprinkle them with cleansing water and pass a razor over all their flesh;
then they shall wash their garments and cleanse themselves.

Can you imagine showing up to Supercuts
and Moses is your barber?

And you’re not just getting a trim and
taking care of split ends, but

he’s going to shave you head to toe
after he douses you with water.

(No word on whether he’s leaving
your eyebrows intact

though I can imagine there have been
entire Talmuds written about whether

or not the Levites were left with their eyebrows.
The seeds of hazing are sown in this initiation.)

Then you’re required to wash your own clothes
and clean your newly hirsute-less self.

One can not overstate the Torah’s
attention to hygiene when you’re a Levite

and you’re about to become One with the Lord.
Aaron’s involved too. He does the heavy lifting.

Literally – he lifts up the Levites and waves them
like giant foam hands at a baseball game.

Or maybe I’m interpreting it wrong and
all the Levites just did the wave with Aaron

directing it like an ancient crowd controlling Dudamel.
It was at this point (after the requisite sin offering

in which tribute was paid to the future Italians
by mixing flour and oil and touching a young bull)

that The Lord, who likes his Levites clean and bald
took possession of them by declaring that they are


Would someone please wave me in the air so
I can do the service I am called to do?

Would someone please clean this layer
of unholiness away?

God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 23 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Hunka Hunka Howdee!” (Poems written in Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville – Ain’t Got No Press, May 2019) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

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