Law of Physics
Do you remember when we were young?
Already we thought ahead to the time
When we would be our middle-aged selves,
Writing these exact odes to the past
Like a strung-out actor
Wondering if it’s time to quit.
The astrophysicists say there is no such thing
As free will; everything we do
Was set in motion at the big bang.
O to break free of this talent show
Where we display our cruelty
Over and over. O to believe
That kindness can be learned,
Pharaoh’s heart melted,
In my four-year-old’s bedroom,
Small planets made of glass
Hang from the ceiling.
I wanted to teach him
About living in our solar system.
Where is the sun? he asks,
And I tell him, It’s up to each of us
To be the sun.
Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician and Torah teacher based in Portland, Ore. Her second poetry book, “Fruit Geode,” will be published by Augury Books in October.
Shabbat tunes me into what is important and reconnecting with our purpose in this world. The headlines are skewed, instead of letting negativity drag me down, I shine back bright.
Beautiful Jewish lesson of the week below,
One of the commandments given this week is the mitzvah to establish cities of refuge. These are 48 cities scattered throughout the land of Israel. What’s interesting about these cities is that the Torah tells us how they need to be planned: each city must be surrounded by an open area and must contain an area in which to plant an orchard. Rashi (11th Century) explains that the purpose of these guidelines was to enhance the aesthetics of the city. This idea seems to echo a story from the first garden ever planted. We are told that G-d planted all kinds of trees in the Garden of Eden (literally, the “Garden of Pleasure). The Torah emphasizes that these trees were beautiful and pleasing to the eye. It seems that in order to be able to live in the Garden of Eden — that is, to be able to live in G-d’s presence — we need to appreciate the world around us. he Garden of Eden was a place of pristine beauty, yet even Adam had to be reminded to appreciate its beauty and not become accustomed and insensitive to the beauty of nature. The Talmud teaches us that one of the three things that broaden a person’s perspective on life, enabling him to see the beauty in G-d’s world, is a beautiful home. It’s interesting that the Parsha ends with the theme of marriage, echoing the second of the three things that broaden our perspective: a beautiful relationship with our spouse. Not only do we always need to seek the beauty in the world around us, but we must also seek it in those with whom we share the world. Perhaps the Torah is telling us that, for all we know, we could be living in the Garden of Eden right now; we just need to be able to recognize what we are seeing.