Your Beard. Your Neighbors. Your Sheep. – A poem for Parsha Parsha Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

Love your neighbors and watch your beard.
April 27, 2023
Orbon Alija/Getty Images

You shall not round off the corner of your head,
and you shall not destroy the edge of your beard.
-Leviticus 19:27

It didn’t take much research for me to learn
that rounding off the corner of your head
specifically was referring to your hair
and not the structure of your skull.

This reminds me, our fourteen-year-old
is overdue for a haircut. I’m prepared to yell
sinner! at him and his stylist if the results
are too round.

Regarding destroying the edges of my beard
I think they mean cutting, but I do appreciate
the drama in the language.

You shall not act on the basis of omens or lucky hours.
-Leviticus 19:26

Okay, I won’t but is there a chart of
what the lucky hours are I can refer to
so I don’t accidentally buy lottery tickets
during them? I don’t want to be misconstrued
as a lucky-hour purveyor.

You shall not crossbreed your livestock with different species.
-Leviticus 19:10

As the folk singer Fred Small used to say
when he sang his song about the moose and the cow
who found each other: It takes a lot of courage to
date outside your species.
I promise not to force the issue.

…you shall love your neighbor as yourself
-Leviticus 19:18

This is the big one which
so many people forget.
They say if you get rid of all the words
and just leave these, you’ll know
everything you need to know.
Let’s all stand on one foot
and say them together.

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 26 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 “I Am Not Writing a Book of Poems in Hawaii” (Poems written in Hawaii – Ain’t Got No Press, August 2022) 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.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.