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The Passage of Time – A poem for Parsha Devarim

A poem for Parsha Devarim
[additional-authors]
July 20, 2023
MirageC/Getty Images

And the days when we went from Kadesh barnea, until we crossed the brook of Zered, numbered thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war expired from the midst of the camp …
          Deuteronomy 2:14

The time jump is one of my favorite tropes.
Suddenly the characters are older and we

have no idea what they’ve experienced
since we last saw them. We can see the

wisdom and damage on their faces.
We know they’ve been through some stuff.

Time jumps remind me of my own mortality.
So many years have passed under my feet.

I look in the mirror and, like the characters,
I have no idea how either of us got here.

And I was here for all of it!
How is it possible I used to not have a child

and now I have a teenager? When did I
learn how to do this? Did I ever?

How is it possible I used to pine over the
impossibility of finding a soulmate, and

now it’s like I have a whole separate body.
How is it possible I used to be locked

behind the bars of a crib, and now I’m
free to operate a motor vehicle?

Thirty-eight years of events passed
between when the Israelites almost

got to enter the Promised Land and
when their children finally did

leaving the ones who walked out of Egypt
as dust on the wrong side of the river.

I don’t think I’ve learned from their mistakes, and
I am continually startled by the passage of time.


Rick Lupert, a poet, songleader and graphic designer, is the author of 27 books including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion.”

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