The Forever of Us: A Poem for Shavuot

June 9, 2016Stacey Zisook Robinson, z"l

The rabbis tell us that when it came time to receive Torah, we were all there – yes, all of us. Every one of us who was and ever will be was there, standing under the mountain, while God's voice and the pyrotechnics that came. During all that thunder and lightning, we stood in the darkness, trembling with the awe and majesty of that moment, a gift of commandment and covenant – and because we were all there, every single one of us, we all accepted the gift of that covenant. We accepted Torah, and all that it entails.

The Forever of Us

Maimonides and Rashi;
Spinoza, too,
and Buber.
I saw them,
just over there,
talking the deep talk
of this and that,
while the Partisans
sang drinking songs
and laughed at
the rumbling,
booming gravitas
of God's own mountain song.

Miriam tapped her timbrels,
in time to the thunder,
calling us all to dance -
Sarah led it,
and Deborah
and Ruth
and Yetta, my grandmother,
who could not go to school
because she had no shoes,
but she danced
that wild and weary
dance, holding hands
with Esther
and Golda.
We all danced,
and trembled.
I could barely hear
that tinny counterpoint
that threaded itself
just beneath the
deep and blaring bass
that shivered the air under
the deep bones of the Mountain.

Let Aaron and the
others play with
their tinker toy gold!
The rest of us -
the long chain of us
that stretched into
the forever of us -
we could feel it:
the fierce and jubilant
joy of it,
the not-yet-but-
almost of it.

And then the words came.
Oh! they came
like rain, like riddles,
Like ropes of silk,
And caught some inner light -
Some spark left over from creation -
And flowed like water over rocks;
All those words of binding and gift and grace,
They carried us,
And caught us,
And led us,
The long forever line of us,
The words that created
the All of us,
led us
Home.

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