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Friday, June 22, 2012

Parshat Korakh: From Darkness to Light

This week’s parashah/portion is Korakh (Numbers/Be’midbar 16:1-18:32).  The parashah contains within it the revolt against Moses’s leadership led by his cousin Korakh, along with Datan and Abiram.   These three, and their followers, challenge Moses and Aaron claiming that everyone is holy.  Unfortunately, their revolt was led by ego and hubris rather than by any belief in egalitarianism, and so the earth swallowed as a punishment. 

On the following day, Moses is told to take a staff from the leaders of all the tribes, with Aaron representing the tribe of Levi, and to place them in the ground inside the Mishkan/Tabernacle.  On the next day they return and Aaron’s staff that has sprouted blossoms and almonds to symbolize his and his descendants chosen stature as High Priest. 

These images form the basis of this poetic commentary on the parashah.

blossoming from darkness to light
I am here  in darkness
why      what have I done
I hear voices  screaming  pleading
           seeing only darkness  impenetrable

I am in the ground      swallowed whole
I am not dead     or perhaps I am

why did I do it
   why didn't I run
       why was I afraid of them
   they were so persuasive
            all are holy
            we are holy
            who is Aaron
            who is Moses
            we are all priests
            all can serve God

Yes     we are all holy
       yet all have different tasks
     all can see   and serve   God
each in their own way

I didn't want to be high priest
       above others
          over the community

I don’t know   what I wanted
then I heard    their voices
becoming my voice       proclaiming
we are holy
       you have too much
           we have not enough
you shall see
I saw firepans
    smelled incense
        searing   burning
I knew    what was happening
        I sensed   what might happen
now I can feel and see only darkness

I had seen God’s power before
   moments of glory   and terror
         deliverance at the sea
    plague and death in the desert

I knew the possibilities
yet I ignored my heart
I did not pay attention to its words

I heard only their words
Korakh Dathan Abiram
  I became them    they were a part me
    they became  my unconscious conscience
        voice of unreason
          smoldering incense
transformed into flaming earth
opening up         swallowing us
filling my  mouth ears nose soul
       with the dark smoke of oblivion

now I am here
  forever beneath the surface
I do not know  what is above
 what exists   what is real

remaining still
listening     waiting
seems an eternity
I try reaching out    up
  my hand moves    slightly
it breaks through the earth
       shattering the shell encasing me
   freeing me from living death

I feel air on my hand
my body remaining submerged underground
 my soul      my heart
remaining shrouded  in darkness     uncertainty
again I reach     out
     I grasp something
           it pulls me up from the earth  toward the light
       the darkness pulls me down
    wanting me to remain caught
torn        in between
  eternal liminality

    where do I belong
under here   or up there
   with them  or with the others
I simply do not know

the force continues pulling me upward
           powerful unstoppable
leading me toward my unknown destiny

I emerge   birthed from my tomb
dirt falling  off my clothing
  the light     the sun
 I sense the shimmering
 fire and cloud
     of Divinity
 all blinding me still

unable to see
I hear a voice calling out a name
 is that me   I am bewildered
           then I realize
       that is the one pulling me up from the ground
telling me that I have been saved

 dazed and puzzled
I look around me
I see the people     my people
surrounding staring frightened wondering
why did I survive
I hear a voice whisper the answer
I have a mission

in that moment I know
  I must show the people
   we are all one
 none of us is
 special   holy chosen
unless we all are

then I notice I feel  what saved me
      what I had grasped before
        my destiny  still in my hands
     shielding my eyes from burning light
I begin to feel the warmth of the Divine
     in my heart and soul
 in my hand  I see a staff blossoming
          I smell sweetness of almond blossoms
 awakening me     reminding me of who I am
        what I must do
 how I must show  those remaining   the truth
            we are One we are holy
I have been saved to save all of us
to help me to see  to know   to show everyone
 the truth  others could not

that is why
  they are underground
           devoured by their gods
ego  hubris pride greed jealousy
that had blinded them to the truth

I am here  where I know belong
  not knowing why I was chosen to play this role
           to open my heart to God to holiness
   for all to see
so we can all join together
 opening our hearts   as One
       moment by moment
        soul by soul
          holy community
            holy life
              blossoming for God
               exquisitely delicate
                 divinely human
                     so all will see
                       all will know
                        the truth
                        the beauty
                         of the One
                             of us all

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