What we crave (Radical Torah repost)
Approaching Elul...and Ramadan.

This week's portion: not by bread


Not by bread alone
but by God's words

not by righteous indignation
but by compassion

not by chastisement
but by longing

not by insistence
but by meeting face-to-face

if you want to live
if you want to inherit

if you want streams
to irrigate your arid heart

if you want to bear fruit
to taste what's rich and sweet

remember the paths
where God has walked you

This week's portion, Ekev, includes a verse about how the Israelites ate manna in the desert, a food not known to them or to their forebears, as part of God's plan to show them that one does not live by bread alone but rather by what God decrees. (The verse can also be read to suggest that we live not by bread alone but by the words of God's mouth -- that is, that God's words are the sustenance which truly gives us life.) That verse gave rise to this week's Torah poem, which also hints at several other images from Deuteronomy chapter 8 as it unfolds.

The other leap I make in this poem is turning the imagery of the promised land into internal imagery. This week's text describes streams and rivers (unparalleled richness in a desert landscape) as well as many kinds of fruits and crops (and even hills rich with iron and copper ore.) But the notion of promised land is a complicated one for me. So instead of following the pshat (surface meaning) of the Torah text, I've chosen to read it also as a text about the richness of the internal landscape of the heart, which is available to us if we are mindful and walk in God's paths and remember.


Technorati tags: , , , , .