The following poem was written by Leslie Kaplan. Leslie grew up at Temple Israel and is now in her early 40s. She has struggled with mental illness throughout her adult years. She is a smart and talented young woman.

Her father, Michael, read this poem today at our Men’s Torah Study. The theme of Leslie’s poem reflects the 9th plague in this week’s Torah portion Bo – Darkness.

Leslie granted me permission to share it with you and I do so here:

“Balance is achieved between the ebb and flow of night and day / The opposites of land and sea.

One cannot achieve enlightenment by merely staring at the sun / The stars also need their say.

You cannot achieve goodness by showing only your attractive attributes / The shadow will grow into a beast if not shown in the light.

The fire will burn your eyes if not cooled by cold blackness of closed lids.

If you want to be awakened you must know yourself / Know not only who you were or who you want to be but also the you right now / Old and charted / Grimed and calloused.

Find compassion for your tainted soul before it is too late.

Fight the monsters of your psyche with all the strength you can muster.

Untangle that which threatens to strangle the goodness still remaining.

And please, I beg, face the darkness within before the darkness becomes your face.