Parshat Emor: Per Say

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Say to the…

It isn’t easy saying it. Especially when it’s real.

We met at one of those crossroads; you know, one of those that are more cross and less road.

She was sleeping there. I was awake; thought I knew where I was going. Ha! In retrospect, what a foolish thought.

Well, she was sleeping and I was awake. Ha! Another reality soon to be discovered as false: you see, it did turn out – at about that sharp turn in the road – that it was she awake and I asleep. But we haven’t yet reached that sharp turn, so more on that a little further down the road.

I carried a lot of baggage. And when I asked her why she didn’t carry any, she said: “I haven’t yet come across anything special enough to carry along with me.” I was intrigued.

She did have a book, though, and when I asked her (I asked her an awful lot) what the book was about, she said (she didn’t say an awful lot, but when she did it was beautiful): “It is a map, containing directions for the road we are on.” Very intrigued.

“But there is no cover,” I exclaimed. “O,” said she, “some things don’t have covers – they just come as they are.”

“Ha! Now that’s a laugh. No cover? What’s to protect it from being hurt, being scarred?”

“O, nothing. But nothing’s to protect it from being loved, being touched either…”

“Love? Ha! Now that’s touching. What a laugh…” And I laughed while she was silent.

“So,” I had begun to disturb her silence, “what exactly do you deem special enough to carry along with you?”

“O,” (she turned her eyes first down to the ground, perhaps shyly, then up to the clouds, perhaps dreamingly) “something real, something eternal that doesn’t fade with the sun’s rays and doesn’t go out of fashion with the moon’s beams; something forever, always alive, beating, smiling – a purpose no one can take away, a dream no one can disturb, just a tiny spark from the flame of Truth and Life.”

Wow! Much more than intrigued. But it was a feeling I couldn’t recognize and so…well I don’t know: just then, it seemed the words I had always been able to rely on had somehow begun to fail me.

And here is where we come upon that sharp turn in the road. It was more than sharp. It was blunt, raw, where we could no longer journey along safely, without addressing the turns of the road and the twists of the heart.

It was time to say it, one way or another, and I couldn’t. I don’t know why.

She had gone and left the book with me. For a very long time I didn’t – no, couldn’t – open it.

It was at a crossroad that I had to, lest I get lost forever. And as I turned the first page of the book and read, I turned the key to my heart and bled. Three words she had written.

It was then I knew it was she awake all along and I asleep.

Now I follow those words through crossroad after crossroad, sharp turn after sharp turn and no longer do I think I know where I’m going. I know exactly where I’m going.

Let me say it. I love you.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

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