Day 39 of the Omer
Day 41 of the Omer

Day 40 of the Omer


after the Degel Machaneh Efraim

When Torah says
tell the Israelites to bring Me
gifts for cobbling together
My patchwork residence

(gold, silver, and copper
crimson and cerulean yarns
acacia wood, bolts of linen
tanned leather and dolphin skins)

read instead
tell the Israelites to bring Me wisdom
which takes as long to gestate
as Moshe spent atop the mountain

I want you to bring Me
your wholeness, your completion
the quality of ripeness which accrues
after forty days of growth

each of you is a Torah,
a transcription of My holy name
other names merely reference,
sign pointing to signifier

but I and My Name are One
which means you are too:
you're part of Me
always cherished

even when you wander
in the wilderness
even when Sinai feels
impossible to reach



Today is the 40th day of the Omer, making five weeks and five days of the Omer. It is the 40th day of our 49-day journey between Pesach and Shavuot, liberation and revelation.

Today's poem is inspired by a teaching from the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, the Degel Machaneh Efraim, about the Torah portion Terumah. (See Terumah: The Torah of 40.) I am grateful to my hevruta partners Rabbi Cynthia Hoffman and Rabbi David Markus for studying the Degel with me. They keep me learning, and that is a gift beyond words.