What follows is a further conversation (see blog of Aug. 17) between the Israeli poet, Rivka Miriam, concerning a poem studied at Sicha Shabbaton:
I want to share a bit more response of the Sicha Shabbaton community to your poem, “I Spread Out My God’s Names Before Me,” (click here for poem) and also invite you to write a few sentences of your own to continue the conversation with that group.
There was acknowledgment that a poet had put into words some of our own thoughts about needing to name a God who frightens, in whose presence one feels fragile and mortal. This is the God of the Yamim Nora’im: the one who knows everything, forgets nothing, who judges. We spoke together about how also to bring to the Yamim Nora’im the name of God that comforts and soothes.
Many also strengthened by a poet who could say: there are times when one wants attention from God and other times when one would be happy to be just one of the crowd.
Thanks to your poem, we might tuck into our prayer books our own names of God, generated during the year, known only to us, as individuals; names to call upon in our more private moments.
Dear Shabbaton community,
First of all, I am greatly moved by the fact that my poem reached you. When one writes a poem, as in our other creative acts, we find ourselves in an absolutely intimate work, corresponding with an inner person more interior than one’s sense of “I.”
Therefore, when a poem such as this one, written from such an inner place finds its way to others and touches them as individuals, this always strikes me as miraculous. Therefore, I feel that a miracle has occurred for me in that my poem has touched you. This seems to me like a child born from the innermost world of the parents, who, after being raised under mother’s care and weaned, and taking first steps, then goes out into the world without her. That mother will always feel that this is her child, even though he separates from her and enters worlds which she does not know and can never know.
As for my poem, I haven’t anything to say. The poem speaks itself. There is something living and personal here that even I cannot discern… If I were to say something about God and God’s names, or about names in general, it would not be as relevant as when you come to read my poem…
Thanks to you all,
One of the many ways the Torah comes to me is as a metaphor for the names that are within me—Cain, the murderer; Iztchak the laughgiver; and the one called “me” in Psalm 27. This lack or presence of heroism in many of our foreparent’s actions is a reflection of my own humanity, just as I find in myself on the Day of Atonement and Psalm 27. Below is a poem I wrote at the Shabbaton with Rabbi Sager and I thought it would be appropriate, with great appreciation, to share:
Ps 27, In Name
The name of God is, “Light” and “Salvation.” Whom shall I fear.
God’s name: “My Life’s Stronghold.” Of whom shall I be afraid.
“Lord,” is the name of God. The name of God is “Lady,”
bringing the fall of evil-doers who would destroy me,
the power of the Lord’s name causing my enemies and foes to stumble.
Though an army array itself against me,
the Lady’s name in my heart allays my fear
for God’s name is “My Confidence”
though battalions war against me.
There is one name I ask of my Lady and my Lord, one name I desire,
that dwelling in me and dwelling around me be the name of the “House of the Lord,”
that, as I learn to emulate the qualities of God, I will know
how to be in that name, “House of God” all the days of my life,
to behold the name, “Graciousness,”
and to enter the sanctuary where He conceals me.
Her name is “Pavilion in the Day of Trouble.
He hides me in her name, “Shelter of the Lady’s Tent,”
lifting me upon a rock, my head lifted up in Her name, “Victorious,”
above my enemies round about me….
Your name O God is “Concealing Not my Presence—or your presence—from me,”
It is, “Turning Not Away in my Anger.”
It is, “Ever my Help”
It is, “Myself not Casting Off,”
“Not Forsaking me,” God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother forsake me,
The Lord’s name will always be, “Take me in His Care.”
Her name is, “Teacher.” Teach me your name, O Lady,
Your name is “Lead me in an Even Path.”
Because of them that lie in wait for me….
Yes, I have faith that I shall yet see the name, “Goodness of the Lord”
in my lifetime.
For the Lady’s name is “Hope.”
Be strong, my heart, in the name of “Courage.”
Hope in the name of the Lord.