Parshat Vayelech: The Way it Went

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02 Oct 2008
Arts & Media

We speak of unity

And unity may even speak of us…


Of all the people standing before G-d

All of them in the warmth and radiance

That is the mystery philosophers aim to

Decipher and poets aim to pen:


United, complete, ready to enter together,

Holding hands, holding breath, holding

Together, holding strong


But in this universe, which I’ve come to know

Through relationships at once intimate yet foreign,

It is very rare for anyone to stand before G-d –

And rarer yet for anyone to admit it.


(As poetry can get a bit vague, when I say “before G-d”

I mean it as the translation from the Holy Tongue, where

“Before” means both “facing” as well as – and more

To the point – on an “internal, intimate” level – what

Is standing before G-d, facing Truth, if not being intimate?


With that said, tell me, how many people

Actually stand before, and within, G-d?)


So, yeah, speak of unity, of standing together

Before G-d – but I look around me and within me

And I don’t see many people or myself standing

Before G-d, I don’t see many people or myself united –


In fact, I see more separation than unity,

More heartbreak than love,

More tears than smiles.


Moshe went and spoke

These words to all of Israel


What is unity, what is completion?


There is unity when we all stand before G-d:

But it is a unity that is insecure – once you leave

That heavenly comfort and (it seems) you are no

Longer standing before G-d, and the unity is challenged

You do not know if the unity will hold, will last, will be

Eternal – it is a unity that hasn’t been earned but a unity

That is because before, within, G-d there just isn’t any

Frag        ment        ation


But then there is a much deeper unity, a unity that is eternal,

A unity that has the ability to take division, fragmentation, and

Unite it


The power to take separation and create from it, with it, oneness


Even when there is a domain of many, a market place of different ideas

And perspectives, we can nevertheless find the unity in it all, make of the

Public domain a private domain, make of the confusion – harmony


Moshe went and spoke


Moshe went: he did not remain at the root

But went, left the source and spoke, communicated,

Expressed ideas and truths even to a place where

One sees the body and may be blind to the soul.


These words to all of Israel


Nevertheless, even after Moshe went, left the

Natural habitat that is the Divine, the people

Were still united, all of Israel, not just the holy,

Not only the pure, but everyone, with their

Challenges, regrets, hopes… everything


Moshe spoke into the ears of

The entire assembly of Israel

The words of this song

Until their completion


The words of this song –

It takes many words to make this song

It takes the entire assembly to make completion


That’s just the way it went (and goes still)

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

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.