Bread and bitter water (Radical Torah repost)
A slow Shabbat

This week's portion: nazir


I don't want to eschew
fat grapes bursting on my tongue
raisins sticky-dark sweet

to lose the sensation of
emerging from the funeral parlor
blinking in the wet sunlight

to set myself apart
never raising my glass in song
unthreaded from the tapestry

so I settle into the chair
I tip my head back, close my eyes
and relish the clench of towel

afterward, I toss my head
to feel the swish, the gift
of air on the back of my neck

and all the oaths
I haven't uttered
crackle salty on my tongue

This week's Torah portion, Naso, contains much to work with. The prose d'var Torah that I posted earlier this week (a Radical Torah repost) focused on the ritual of the sotah. This week's Torah poem, in contrast, rose out of a different part of the portion: the laws of the nazir (sometimes rendered "Nazirite" in English), someone who takes on particular stringencies as part of a vow to God.

Because it is no longer possible to end a term as a nazir (the Torah ritual depends on making sacrifices at the Temple which hasn't stood in two thousand years), rabbinic authorities today discourage the taking-on of these vows in the strongest of terms. Judaism has never been a tradition of asceticism. But I found the images in this part of this week's Torah portion deeply evocative, and they sparked the images in this week's poem.

Does anything about the idea of the nazir speak to you, either in a positive way or a negative one? What does this poem, or this Torah portion, raise for you?


Technorati tags: , , , , .