Note: I wrote this before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, 5770 (September 2009) after learning of the illness of the child of a friend.
“SO, HERE IS A SHOFAR THAT I WROTE TO GOD…”
Guardian of Israel, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps,
Master Builder, Who fashioned the human brain
And planted on its sides two elegant ears,
Take the cotton out of Your own, and get it through Your head
That I am here,
Angry, pleading, shivering
On the lawn outside of Your heavenly home.
I whisper, weep, and wail,
Loudly gasping for Your attention
As You sit there, dozing divinely on Your throne.
I am the child wailing with pain,
I am his parent weeping with fear,
I am the one whispering hoarsely-
“Where are You?”-
You tell me that, when that shofar blasts,
I –like it- should let out a whimper.
You tell me that, when that ram’s horn sounds,
I –like it- should let out a groan.
You tell me that, with the first blasted note,
I –like it- should let out a wail…
But I’ll tell You what:
I –like it- will gather my breath
With the force of hurricane wind in a sail
And I’ll shout and shriek and shake my fists
At You, demanding You be there when I call,
I’ll rattle Your walls and shatter Your windows,
As I shake You, wake You from the conspiracy
Of Your Deaf-Mute Complacency.
Say hello to my little friend, Lord:
This bent, stooped, bowed, crooked shofar,
Symbol of humble petition, submission, contrition
This weapon of the wounded
That wounds Your cast iron heavens,
Its bullets whistling
Anguish and hope.
Together with every piercing note-
Every voice of every person
Who ever loved, lost, smiled and suffered-
We’ll march on Your property:
An army of shofars bellowing like grown ups
And crying inconsolably like children.
Hooting and hollering,
With love, lust for life
And that limitless mix of joy and fear
For what this year may bring,
We’ll get Your attention,
As we scream Tekiah in Your ears,
And get in Your face…
Only to realize when, face-to-face,
That You were awake all the time:
The anxious Parent up at 3 AM in tears
Waiting for us to come home, away from all harm
Whispering to us, “I’m here, it’s ok.”
Letting us fall silent, and cradling us like babies
In Your arms.
© 2010 by Rabbi Dan Ornstein. All Rights Reserved.