My Levite Agenda – A poem for Parsha Bamidbar

June 2, 2022

They shall keep his charge and the charge of
the entire community before the Tent of Meeting,
to perform the service of the Mishkan.
–Numbers 3:7

I was born of Cohens and take the
responsibilities of the Levites seriously.
Though, it wasn’t always this way.

My first time at Temple I wanted
nothing to do with it. Nine years old
and this was my way.

We moved across the country and
Temple got in the way of Boy Scouts.
This didn’t help Temple’s cause.

Later that year Temple sent me to camp
and there was a pretty girl there and,
well, things started to change.

I decided I would go back and
before I knew it I was furthering
Temple’s cause which, as it turned out

was my cause too. Choose a good life.
Do unto others. More than occasionally
have a little nosh. There was so much to love.

Soon I picked up a guitar and Temple
was sending me paychecks. I was happy
to keep the lights on at home, but soon

realized it was my job to turn the lights
out at Temple when I was done with the room.
And my job to make sure the stranger

felt welcome when they first walked
through the doors, and my job to
pay attention and take care.

It didn’t say any of that on the piece of paper
I signed when I showed up, but my job
description comes from the oldest text.

All the details are there, passed down
from my mother, and her parents, and
their parents, and so on

all the way back to the mountain
when my ancestors were first told
to perform this service.

I don’t have Cohen on my
business card. But I let my actions
do the telling.

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 25 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 “The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express” (Poems written in Japan – Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020) 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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