Torture awareness
On holy anniversaries

"My mouth is a kiln / for smelting Torah..."

Longtime readers may recall that during my last year of rabbinic school I took a two-semester class called Moadim l'Simcha, "Seasons of our Rejoicing," in which Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg led us through studying a variety of Hasidic texts about the festivals and the ebb and flow of the spiritual year. At the end of the first semester of that class, my final project was the creation of a brief collection of poems, each of which arose out of my own translation of a particular Hasidic text.

In anticipation of Shavuot, I wanted to offer one of those poems here. The poem comes out of a Sfat Emet teaching on parashat Emor (my notes tell me it was given over in the year 1872 and can be found on page 3:167a -- sorry I can't offer a more precise citation than that.) Hopefully this poem, like the text which inspired it, speaks to the ways in which counting the Omer gives us opportunities to refine our spiritual qualities in preparation to receive revelation again.



the words of God
are refined silver

living embodied
we purify what we're given

my mouth is a kiln
for smelting Torah

Egypt was a place
for forging iron

base and heavy
like our speech

throats constrained
by Pharaoh's chains

but at Sinai
everything changed

Torah is coming,
make yourself ready

make your words