On the third new moon after leaving Egypt
we entered the wilderness at Sinai and camped
by the mountain. God called us a holy nation
and claimed us for Her own. Enraptured
we promised we'd do anything, as lovers do.
And God said: stay pure. Wash your clothes.
Get ready: something big is coming.
And Moshe said: don't go near a woman—and zzzt!
skips the record with an awful scratch, the song
marred now for all generations. I beg
your pardon? Was Moshe so afraid of our bodies?
Is that why he shunned his own wife, to keep himself
at the ready for God? Stay off the mountain,
God said, and we understood that: the very air
crackled with electricity, scaring the goats.
When the shofar sounds, then approach,
God said, and we understood that: we knew
the triumphant song of the ram's horn.
But when Moshe said avoid women, we cried out
to his sister Miriam, and her voice reached us
saying he can't help his limitations, but
between you and me, the only way Torah comes
is to everyone together. To all of us,
all in one place, all hearing the Voice
which contains all voices.
Don't hold yourself apart from anyone.
The only way to get it together is together.
Wash away your jealousies
and garb yourself in righteousness.
Get ready to listen up. Torah is coming.
Today is the 47th day of the Omer. Today is the 47th day of our 49-day journey between Pesach and Shavuot, liberation and revelation.
Today's poem arises out of the Torah reading for the first day of Shavuot. I couldn't resist responding to Moshe's instruction.
The lines about Moshe shunning his wife come out of midrash which says that even after the giving of the Torah, he stayed away from his wife in order to be more available to God.
"The only way to get it together is together" is a quote from Reb Zalman (Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi) z"l.