So often God called Moses. / Three times they met / at the flaming bush / on Sinai and before the Tent of Meeting / that Moses might intuit God’s mind / and soothe God’s heart / as a lover comforts his beloved.
Since creation / God yearned to bridge the chasm / when the Creator pulled away / and opened space / to share the universe.
Yet the Almighty remained alone / exiled within the Divine Self / when the vessels shattered / and matter was flung to the far reaches of the universe.
The upper spheres were divorced from the lower / male from female / the primal Father from the primal Mother / Tiferet from Malchut / Hakadosh Baruch Hu from Shechinah / Adonai from K’nesset Yisrael.
Before time and speech / God appointed the soul of the Shepherd-Prince Moses / to be prophet / and endowed him with hearing-sight / wide-ranging wisdom and intuitive knowledge.
No one but Moses / had ever been so chosen or / to come so near to God.
Moses saw with his ears / heard with his eyes / tasted with his mind / and remained whole in the Light.
The prophet descended the mountain aglow / the primordial Light shielding him behind a veil / bearing on his forehead divine ink-drops / illuminating the earth’s four corners.
Moses descended upon angel’s wings / weightless and cradling the lettered-stone / inside the eye of raging winds.
Though a Prince in Egypt / Moses’ destiny was as a lonely shepherd / gathering sheep / and drawing the children of Israel to God.
God needed much from Moses / to bring the plagues / and show that there is no God but God / and liberate the people / and bring them to Sinai / and inspire with the Word / and create God’s house / that light might abide within every heart / and restore wholeness in the world.
After all of God’s expectations and demands / we might expect Moses’ strength to be depleted / to be exhausted to the bone and ready to say / “Enough! O Redeemer – find a new prophet / I can no longer bear the burden / and be Your voice and create bridges / You are Almighty God / I am but flesh / My strength is gone / My time expired!”
“Nonsense!” proclaimed the Eternal / “I am not yet ready for your retirement! / My world remains shattered / My light obscured / my heart aching / I need you to teach My people / and all people / instill in their hearts / a love that heals My wound / for I cannot do this for Myself.”
Alas, the Creator-Redeemer’s needs were clear / to be close to Moses and the people / that the prophet and Israel together / might wipe away God’s tears / and restore God’s heart to wholeness / and heal God’s Name to Itself / and bring peace.
Poem composed by Rabbi John L. Rosove
Notes about this poetic Midrash:
The first word that appears in this week’s Torah portion Vayikra (vav – yud – kuf – resh – aleph – “And God called Moses…”) ends with an unusually small aleph. This anomaly in what is called the k’tiv (written text) gave rise to much rabbinic interpretation over the centuries.
Rashi explained that the small aleph teaches the humility of Moses. Others said that the aleph is an introduction to the Levitical laws of sacrifice, which requires humility. A Midrash suggests that when Moses descended from Mount Sinai carrying the tablets of the law, he emitted a keren or (“a ray of light”) compelling Moses to shield his face with a veil because the people could not look upon him in such a state. The source of that ray of light was divine ink left over when Moses wrote a small aleph instead of one of normal size. The Midrash explains that Moses had sought to lessen his own stature by using a small aleph, but God restored the extra drops of divine ink by placing them upon Moses’ forehead.
The Midrashic literature comments at length about Moses’ experience meeting panim el panim (lit. “face to face” – metaphorically “soul to soul”) with God. Moses was first among God’s prophets. Though each prophet spoke God’s words, there never was another prophet like Moses nor, as the Torah explains, was there ever again a more humble human being on earth than Moses.
It is my fascination with prophecy that inspired me to write this poetic Midrash.
For those of you wishing more insight into Biblical prophecy, I recommend Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “The Prophets” – publ. Jewish Publication Society, New York, 1962.
Jeanne Fannan said:
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL, John!!!! So glad you posted it so many can see it. Thank you.