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To God, Who Divides the Waters

To God, Who Divides the Waters

A Poem During Hurricane Season

See from behind: woman in shorts standing in thigh-high flood water

Nachshon, the Rabbis tell us in several midrashim (biblical commentary), was the first of us to walk into the water after we fled Egypt. Standing on the shores of the Sea, Moses told the Children of Israel that they need not be afraid – just walk into the Sea and God will part the waters so they could escape Pharaoh and his chariots. The Israelites all stared at the lapping waves, until Nachshon decided to have a little faith. The rest, they say, is history.

This poem uses that midrash as its base – but with a twist, written in the destructive wakes of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Learn more about how to join the Reform Jewish community's hurricane response efforts

I think of Nachshon.
who walked into the waters.
until they almost swallowed him..
Past his chin they came,.
but he didn't stop.

He walked, they rose.
And then they parted.

Just like that,
a miracle of divine order.
They say the angels flew about,
singing sweet psalms
and cheering the marchers on,
until God reined them in,
showering them with shame.

The waters now are rising
and we desperately need
a ribbon of dry land.
People are wading through
chest-high currents
that eddy and ripple and 
drag at their sodden feet
and leaden hearts, 
threatening again to
swallow them whole.

Dear God, who moves 
upon the water's face;
who divided the waters 
and makes the rain;
Who sends the storms
and attends the tides -
do You wait again for Nachshon,
wrapped in his faith 
and in his folly,
to walk, and show You
once more, where the waters 
need to part?

Stacey Zisook Robinson is a member of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL, and Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, IL. She blogs at Stumbling Towards Meaning.

Stacey Zisook Robinson

Published: 9/12/2017

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