November 16, 2018

A Pure Soul – Parashat Shmot – A poem in honor of Moses and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

The Book of Exodus is essentially a story about God’s saving love for the oppressed Israelites. It begins with the birth of Moses and follows him as a young prince turned into a rebel and outlaw, then a shepherd, and finally THE prophet of God.

Why Moses? What was so unique about him that God should choose him to be His most intimate of prophets?

Moses is a complex man; passionate, pure, just, humble, at home no where, carrying always the burdens of his people and the word of God.

God identified him because he was unique, and that is what my drash-poem below is about; namely, the uniqueness that would draw Moses out to become the most important Jew in history.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., though not Moses, was a prophet for our times, and on this weekend we celebrate his legacy.

Shmot – A poem

A Pure Soul – A Poem

So often we walk about in a daze,

Eyes sunk in creviced faces

Fettered to worldly tasks

Unable to glimpse rainbows.

I imagine Moses, in Midian, like that,

Brooding in exile,

Burdened by his people’s suffering,

Knowing that each day

They scream from stopped-up hearts

Shedding silent tears.

A simple shepherd Moses had become

Staff in hand

Counting sheep

Until one day

Weaving through rocks

Among bramble bushes

The shepherd heard thorns popping.

Turning his head

His eyes were opened

And he would never be the same.

God had from his birth taken note of him

And waited until this moment

To choose him as prophet.

Dodi dofek pitchi li

A-choti ra-yati yo-nati ta-mati.

“Open to me, my dove,

my twin, my undefiled one.” (Song of Songs 5:2)

Moses heard the Divine voice

His eyes beheld angels

His soul flowed with a sacred river

Of Shechinah light.

‘Why me?

Why should I behold such wondrous things?

Unworthy am I!’

God said,

‘Moses – I have chosen you

Because you are soft

Because you weep

Because your heart is burdened and worried,

Because you know this world’s cruelty

Yet you have not become cruel

Nor do you stand idly by.

You are at heart

A tender of sheep,

And you will lead my people

With the shepherd’s staff

From Egypt

And teach them to open

Their stopped-up hearts

Without fear.’

Trembling, Moses peered a second time

Into the bush aflame

Free from ash and smoke.

His eyes opened as in a dream

And he heard a soft murmuring sound

Like the sound breath makes

Passing through lips.


Two voices—One utterance!

He hid his face

For the more Moses heard

The brighter was the light

And he knew he must turn away

Or die.

The prophet’s thoughts were free

Soaring beyond form

No longer of self.

To this very day

There has not been a purer soul than his.

God said, ‘Come no closer, Moses!

Remove your shoes

Stand barefoot here

on this earth

For I want your soul.

I am here with you and in you

I am every thing

And no thing

And You are Me.

I see that which is and which is not

And I hear it all.

Take heed shepherd/prince

For My people‘s blood

Calls to me from the ground

The living suffer still

A thousand deaths.

You must go and take them out!

Every crying child

Every lashed man

Every woman screaming silent tears.

And Moses, know this

“With weeping they will come,

And with compassion will I guide them.” (Jeremiah 31:8)

The people’s exile began with tears

And it will end with tears.

I have recorded their story in a Book

Black fire on white fire

Letters on parchment

Telling of slaves

Seeing light

Turning to Me

Becoming a nation.

The Book is My spirit

The letters are My heart

They are near to you

That you might do them

And teach them

And redeem My world

That it might not be consumed in flames.