Sinai / A Poem by Tziporah Ladin-Gross

I will not hide myself from you
And I will not be silent
My lips may drip with honey
And I will probably never be a man’s ayshet chayil
But hineni
I am here
Standing before G-d as a Jew
Born of a Jewish mother
My connection to a community
That believe in matrilineal descent
And the Torah’s truths
And the Talmud’s laws
Is undeniable
As a woman
I am given three beautiful mitzvot
When Friday morning arrives
I knead sweetness into the dough
I weave and braid Shabbat into my week as I wind down
And sometimes, my joy for Shabbos glows brighter
Than the flames themselves
The blessings roll off my tongue
Like the oil
From the flames of the menorah that once glowed in our holiest sites
I bring Shabbos in
Eyes closed
Heart open
And I can feel the warmth of HaShem’s light
Until darkness is poured over me
In the form of niddah
And the knowledge that
So many people who share my history
Will not accept my marriage as pure
Who am I, HaShem?
To say that I know more than those who dedicate their lives to study?
But who are they?
To tell me that I am improperly dedicating my life to you?
You are present in my lungs with each breath
On my lips with each kiss
I was made
B’tselem Elo-im
You breathed life into my nostrils
And with that breath you blessed me
With longings that rabbis can’t explain
HaShem, I am bleeding to follow your words wholly
And this niddah is not caused by my own body
But by the Amalekites wounding me
Disguised by tznius and black hats
As if they lay tefillin to “Love the Lord thy G-d”
But not the Jew standing next to them
Their love for community
Is blinded by blatant hatred of Your own creation
And I know that you free the shackled
But it’s your own people putting each other in chains
And claiming that the only way out is to deny myself
When we stood before you at Sinai
We were too afraid to hear your words
But now, your tzadikim have booming voices of their own
And I am once again afraid
So I stand before you again
Wanting to follow your laws again, wholeheartedly
I’ve tried to lift these mountains that your followers have set
But they’re much too heavy for me alone
Waiting to follow your laws
With this mountain on my shoulders

Posted originally on Living and Learning and republished here with the author’s permission


Moses on Mount Sinai: Jean-Léon Gérôme – 1895-1900



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