Jul 20, 2015

Sent by God [a #poem]

Sent by God
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Light within and between
fills the universe,
part by part,
eye by eye,
smile by smile,
breath by breath.

There are people who ignite your heart in an instant,
fill your eyes with grateful tears just by being.
You can’t look for them. They aren’t like that.

They’re just right there, sent by God to wake you up.

Jul 19, 2015

That Box [#poem]

That Box
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I’m not ready to be here again,
yellowed papers in endless rows,
nothing has changed.

Texts are more than words,
more than parchment,
more than lifespans.

One year ago…
but I’m not ready to be here again.

We moved from our People’s geniza
into that room,
touched the holy texts
of poets and statesmen,
dreamers and pioneers…

,,,we moved on...

Suddenly (again)
my hands suddenly held death,
hard, cold, and demanding,
the end of the dream of immanent peace.

The pounding of missiles above and my heart within.

How can I walk back into that room?
How can that room even be?
How have we managed to endure our ragged history?

Those who forget the past
may be condemned to relive it.
But what of those who can’t forget?

I’m just a little boy in my family’s attic,
knowing that in that familiar corner is our dreams,
and in that other corner,
that wretched corner,
rests our nightmare,
an indelible stain
in the very fabric of our being.

The boxes go on
and on
and on.

I’m in the room again,
the one I can never escape,
hands and soul trembling.
I know what’s coming.
The same table,
same guide,
same documents...

...and that accursed box…

Al sfat Yam Kinneret /
On the shores of the Sea of Galilee,
the UN tally,
the very (re)birth of our Nation,
letters from Presidents and Prime Ministers,
dreams of prophets…
...and that box.

Today, my hand holds a pen,
but it is also - and always is -
holding that twisted thing,
that wrongness.
Death.

I sit, watching beloved friends
ooh and ahh at the beauty of each manuscript,
every scrap witness to to the staggering reality of our Story,
miracles and light.

And that box.

Fading photos, possible flags,
emerging language, testimony,
all of it: witness.

And: here I sit,
staring at that box.

On that hard day
one year ago,
that shocking sensation,
cold metal in my warm hands,
my cold paralyzed hands,
a precious friend reminding me,
gently guiding my hands to put it down,
to put the gun down.

My hands know what’s coming.

Their sounds,
their wonder,
their smiles,
as our journey unfolds
on this table, this altar,
upon which fiery sacrifices are recorded,
and strange fire in a box awaits.

What truth comes next?

Blue and white, black and white,
yellowed pages of art and verse,
image after image after image.
And that box.

I sit in the very space,
standing where I stood,
moving where once I couldn’t.
Heart still stopped.
Staring at that box.
That box.
That. Box.

My breath won’t come.
I move closer.
To the box.
Feeling time disappear.

Suddenly it is Then.
The eternal return.
That box.

I’m in that box.

Jul 18, 2015

Friends, I'm asking for your help to fund a funeral.

Friends, I'm asking for your help to fund a funeral. 

A dear friend's friend (Gloria) in Chicago just lost her father and two brothers due to‪ #‎GunViolence‬ yesterday. This was a murder-suicide at the hands of Gloria's eldest brother who was mentally ill. They tried in vain to get him help but failed. The family is now faced with burying three family members at once. I'm asking you to go to the gofundme page Gloria's family has set up, make a gift, and share this message. This is a mitzvah the likes of which I wish no one ever needed do. Please give, and share this with your networks. Praying for healing. 

http://www.gofundme.com/z8z8s8w

Thank you friends, for making this difference,
Menachem

............................
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org
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Jul 16, 2015

Please God, Softness [#poem]

Please God, Softness [#poem]
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Last year it was a gun
that broke my heart,
missiles tore my soul.

Today I heard a Palestinian grandfather
pray to not bury his grandchildren,
piercing me with his eyes.

There will be analysis of his facts.
(He, of course, has only his eyes.)
History will be written and rewritten,
never to be agreed upon.

But his eyes, his eyes, his prayer...
that simple, wrenching prayer...

So much blood.
So much pain.

God's tears pour through my eyes
because God's tears poured through his.

Please God, I'm begging
for softness,
for love,
for our sharp edges to disappear.
Please...

-------
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
▶menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org

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Jul 12, 2015

Mall Poems

Mall Poems
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Looking Up

Battery dead, I look up:
children in bumper cars,
just another day at the mall.
parents jostling to get their child
this pink car, that blue one.

One boy with a kippah (in the pink car)
crashes into a girl's (purple) car
and smiles.

Their parents don't stand together.
One's mom here, the other's there.
She wears a sheitel. She wears a hijab.

When the children collide and smile
I search their mothers' eyes,
but they're looking down,
distracted by their phones.

Sof Onah / End of the Season

Discounts glare from every angle,
people everywhere, noise everywhere.

An Arab family walks into Hoodies,
followed by two yeshiva bochers.
A father carries his young girl,
a mother searches the crowd for hers.

I sit under an HD Samsung TV, watching it all, pushed by the noise, lights, chaos, lostness, and the rush of undifferentiated humanity, all just trying to to find a sale, their sale.

A Bag for Eggs

Twenty-three years ago
my father gave me a mesh bag for eggs,
for when I would go shopping.

The bag was already yellowed with age,
the bagless world it served long gone.

Here, in this Jewish mall,
cellphone kiosks abound,
flanked by American Eagle and Children's Place,
Cafe Hillel and Nautica,
Pizza Hut and Toys R Us.

I just ordered an omelette,
bought an extra cellphone battery,
and a new pair of sandals.

I brought my own bag.

Tzomet haSefarim / Book Junction

An image comes to mind
here in this bright, Hebrew bookstore:
five weathered books, stacked carefully
on my office bookshelf,
a gift from my father,
Torah with Rashi.

As I plow through an Aharon Appelfeld novel,
surrounded by all these shiny new books,
those faded blue volumes 
fill my eyes.

The Mall

I didn't come here
searching for meaning.
It's a mall, after all.

But.

The escalator and elevator
carry God's Images up and down.
A child sits by a gushing fountain
built of rock, with his mother.
Spices and silver (and much more) are traded here.

Voices echo and combine,
bouncing off each surface,
rising to the domed sapphire roof,
perhaps beyond.

I... I did not know.

............................
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org
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Jul 5, 2015

Faces and Arms and Feet and Numbers [a #poem]

Faces and Arms and Feet and Numbers
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

All I want to know is:
what would my number have been?

This face of mine, suddenly unfamiliar,
belongs to time long gone.
So why wouldn't my arm be the same?

These feet,
upon which I stand, shaking,
in my own home, my People's home:
Whose feet are they, really?

On this day,
marking the beginning of our defeat,
our walls breached:
Will this time be different?

All I want is:
Let there be no more numbers.