A tale of cloak and dagger
The working title: Life
We are born for a reason
(Most of us agree on that)
But what reason?
(Most of us disagree on that)
Let us say, for poetry’s humble sake,
That we are born to make a difference,
To make of an obstacle an opportunity,
To make of a dying nightmare a living
Ah, but where is all the suspense, the high-
Speed chases and low-light mysteries
Promised by your title and opening
Where is all the tension of black-and-white film?
It’s noir to be found!
Oh, but drama takes more than just a good script:
It takes the development of character and purpose
And this we have done –
Character: we the human
Purpose: sanctifying earth
What about Setting, you ask?
Stage 1: the Desert
Stage 2: the Promised Land
Here’s where it gets interesting, intriguing:
How to get from Desert to Promised Land,
From obstacle to opportunity, from shadow
Cold and gray to light shining and warm?
How, from the great concept of peace
A simple, practical peacefulness?
Send forth for yourself men
And they will scout the Land
Of Canaan which I give to the
Children of Israel
A verse that seems to be averse
To its very own logic: if G-d gives
The Land to the people, independent
Of their abilities or disabilities, why
Then do the people need – and feel a
Need – to scout the Land?
Would man rather recon the land
Than reckon with the Divine?
Of renaissance and reconnaissance:
To enter a new reality, a land that
Must be settled, is very unsettling:
Imagine living an entire isolated
Existence, where heavenly bread
And splitting seas are the everyday
Norm, and, one day, you are told
That life is about to change –
Now on you’re going to work for
Your bread, no more using heaven
As a crutch but, like a child reaching
Adulthood, time to walk on your own
Scary, is it not?
But who’s afraid of scary?
Which I give to the Children of Israel
The Land of Israel, the holy potential
And the potential for holiness, is a gift
From G-d, whether or not we want it,
Whether we wish to enter the Promised
Land and embrace the possibilities or whether
We’d rather remain in the desert basking
In our fiefdoms and boredoms…
Send forth for yourself men
But a gift is not enough:
To settle the Land, to do a good
Deed, a mitzvah (for is not every mitzvah
A form of settling the Land?) we must
Know how, we must use our senses,
Understand and feel what the Land
Is all about, lest the potential of it
Never be fully realized.
This tale of cloak and dagger
Is not whether or not we can enter the Land
(That G-d has already established)
But rather how to enter the land, how to make
Of earth heaven –
Come upon the Promised Land –
Is anything standing in our way
Besides our own selves?
Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at jakeyology.blogspot.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.
Like this article?
Sign up for our Shabbat Shalom e-newsletter, a weekly roundup of inspirational thoughts, insight into current events, divrei torah, relationship advice, recipes and so much more!