On being a blogging rabbi
Revising my sermons; revising me

Airport havdalah

Sun slides behind the concourse.
It's still today, but the coming week
encroaches. My mind clicks through
obligations like prayer beads.

Then the chat window opens.
You type the first words of havdalah.
Behold! The God of my redemption.
I open to the week; I am not afraid...

Suddenly though among strangers
I am not alone. You are with me.
Your emoji and your texts
-- they comfort me.

As I board the plane
I catch a whiff of someone's perfume.
The seatbelt sign glows. In its light
my polished fingernails gleam.

Bless the One Who separates
and bridges. Even at a distance
we aren't really apart.
My cup overflows.


This poem was written on my second plane home from Beyond Walls. I was traveling on Saturday evening and there was no way to make havdalah in any formal sense, but this experience -- and the writing of the poem which ensued -- became my ceremony of separation between Shabbat and week.

Havdalah is celebrated with the scent of sweet spices (to revive us as the "extra soul" of Shabbat departs) and by holding up our hands to the light of the braided candle. The final havdalah blessing speaks of God Who separates; I follow a Jewish Renewal custom of adding "and Who bridges."