Readings on Fire

By: 
Rabbi Zoë Klein
a bonfire
Take Our Burnt Offerings, Oh God

It is written in Deuteronomy 12:6-7:
There you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices,
your tithes and contributions,
your votive and freewill offerings,
and the firstlings of your herds and flocks.
Together with your households
you shall feast there before the Lord your God, happy…

Torah has no punctuation.
Time and circumstance punctuate the text.
And this time is apocalyptic sky.
And this circumstance is wildfire.
And so we read verses 6 and 7 differently:
There you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices,
your tithes and contributions,
your votive and freewill offerings,
and the firstlings of your herds and flocks,
together with your households.
You shall feast there before the Lord your God, happy…

Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
And our other sacrifices.
Our tithes and contributions,
Our sorrow and confusion.
Take our freewill offerings,
And our against-our-will offerings.
Take the firstlings of our flocks,
And the rest of the flock as well,
Take our forests and lizards,
Inchworms and squirrel nests,
Honeybees and pine needles,
Mustard flowers and mossy clearings
Take the mother bird along with her eggs
Not by Flood but by Fire,
Take our burnt offerings
Together with our households.

Dear God, remember Daniel,
Who walked out of the furnace alive.
Dear God, remember Moses,
Who saw the burning bush and survived.
Dear God, remember Israel,
Who stood at the foot of the mountain while it was aflame.
Dear God remember us,
Who beg in your mercy to be saved.

Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
Our heated fury at our loss,
Our searing terror and scorching devastation,
Our smoldering fear and charred possessions,
Our fevered anguish and smoking grief,
Our fuming remorse and explosive laments,

Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
And fan in us a scintilla of gratitude, for family and life,
Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
And kindle in us instead an ember of love.
Take this burnt offering, oh God,
And spark in us the strength and the will to rebuild.
Then we shall feast before the Lord our God, happy.
We shall feast before God and be happy.

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