She Brings Out My Inner Rabbi

Chamsa: The opened hand that is always giving

She brings out the Jewish housewife in me,
as I peel giant carrots and potatoes
from the farmer’s market, cry over
the onions and melt chunks of butter
in a big blue pot over a gas flame.
She brings out my inner rabbi, too,
the same one who called from within
when I was twenty-one, who sought out
Kaddish when I barely knew a blessing
but needed to mourn in an older tongue,
who fought and wrestled like Jacob
with the angel and won him over in ways
I never expected, like landing here
with her soft belly rising and falling
so steadily against my lower back,
a late-fall afternoon nap when 3:00pm
is nearing dusk and the long list of tasks
and questions can wait, and must.
She takes me by the hand and leads
me to the doors of so many old rooms,
opening this one I thought was broken,
that one I swore concealed emptiness
or dreams abandoned, enlightening
treasures I’ve been saving for a later
that might have never come
had I not responded to a message
from a stranger, a fellow wanderer
in a desert searching for home
where I was a poet, a housewife,
a rabbi without a flock, a woman
without a country, a mapmaker
with just enough ink to sign my name,
which I see now has never changed.

Image from Tzfat Gallery of Mystical Art.

Within the hand is written:
רצון לקבל בעל מנת
THE DESIRE TO RECEIVE IN ORDER TO. . .

Below the hand is written:
להשפיע
GIVE

One thought on “She Brings Out My Inner Rabbi

  1. daniel says:

    This is really beautiful, Jena and just in time for my wife Julia and I to think of all of this as we go to Thanksgiving dinner on the first day of Chanukah at our newly married oldest son’s apartment in Brooklynl It is all such a blessing. Shalom to you and for your wonderful ability to tell your truth in writing.

    Like

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