Walking the Walk (Radical Torah repost)
One last post before Yom Kippur

This week's portion: recording


God doesn't talk to us anymore
and the old recordings
sound tinny and dated

when we replay Moshe's speech
about awe and vengeance,
God's arrows drunk with blood

it wobbles in our ears
a wax cylinder impression
of ancient thunder

now if we hear the voice
it bubbles up from within
like the call of a thrush

like a stream in the forest
which even in winter
does not freeze

anyone can listen
if they will be still
notice what's unfolding

This week's portion, Ha-azinu, mostly consists of a long praise-poem recited by Moshe to the people of Israel. Like other Biblical praise-poems, this one makes much of God's might; it also makes much of God's vengeance. Neither of these is necessarily a comfortable way of understanding God for many liberal Jews today.

Indeed: the bloodthirstiness of the praise-poem in Ha-azinu feels very far away to me, a relic of a much earlier paradigm and an earlier moment in our evolving understanding of God. So the images which rose up for me when I began to write this week's Torah poem came out of earlier paradigms of technology, modes of recording voices which may sound thin or foreign to our contemporary ears. (There was a stanza in the first draft likening reading this Torah portion to watching a flickering black-and-white silent film in this era of high-definition TV and IMAX, but I decided not to mix aural and visual metaphors.)

I'm curious to know how you respond, both to the poem in the Torah portion and to this contemporary response. Do either of them speak to you?

(ReadWritePoem folks, apologies; I couldn't find any way to make this week's Torah poem fit the tall tales & whoppers prompt! But if you're interested, you can read other people's responses to that prompts in the comments of the Get Your Poem On post.)