A day in the life

Conversation with R' Feibush Heller, z"l

Sometimes the material I'm reading for my rabbinic school classes speaks to me on levels beyond the intellectual. That's when I find these ideas weaving their way into the poems I'm working on.

Like this one. Which I shared with my classmates, and they liked it, so I'll share it with you:


Stacking wood, I'm thinking
about Meshullam Feibush.
How can I separate
from the insidious desires
of the temporary self, that voice

which whispers "today I want
warmer socks and a box of truffles
and praise from the people around me
and an easy shortcut
to everything I don't yet know?"

It's not so simple
to dedicate myself to wisdom,
to the river of conversation
flowing always toward Eden,
to the work I know the world demands.

Tough luck, the rav says.
I'm telling you how to taste paradise:
not despite everything
that’s appealing or uneven,
shards unwilling to reassemble,

but because in multiplicity
we can train ourselves
to notice both sides of the coin,
the radiance and the source
and how they are one.


R' Meshullam Feibush Heller of Zbarazh was an early Hasidic rabbi, and most of the ideas in this poem are drawn from my understanding of his work. You can read about him and his circle, and get a taste for his teachings, in the book Uniter of Heaven and Earth by Rabbi Miles Krassen, a.k.a. Moshe Aharon, with whom I am blessed to be learning this fall.

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