Jewish Journal

Moses and God’s Tears - A Midrashic Poem for Parashat Vayikra

by Rabbi John Rosove

March 7, 2014 | 7:53 am

So often God called upon Moses –
Three times they met;
first at  the flaming bush,
then on Sinai amidst rock and stone,
and finally before the Tent of Meeting,
that Moses might intuit God’s mind
and soothe God’s broken heart
as a lover brings comfort to her beloved.

Since creation
God yearned to bridge the chasm
formed when the Creator pulled away
to open space for the universe.

Alone – exiled within the Divine Self
The holy Name, YHVH,
was divided from Itself as well
when the vessels holding the light shattered
and matter was flung to the far reaches of the universe –
the upper spheres were divorced from the lower,
male from female,
the primal Father from the Mother,
Tiferet from Malchut,
Hakadosh Baruch Hu from Sh’chinah,
Adonai from K’nesset Yisrael.

God yearned to restore what was once whole,
And not remain alone.

Before time and speech
and earth hurled into space
God appointed the soul of the Shepherd-Prince Moses as prophet
and endowed him with hearing-sight
and intuitive-wisdom
and integrated-knowledge.

No one but Moses
came so near to God
for all the rest of humankind
has inadequate vision and understanding.

Moses alone saw with his ears
and heard with his eyes
and tasted with his mind
to withstand the Light.

The prophet descended from Sinai aglow,
the primordial Light shielded through a veil
with divine ink-drops touched to his forehead
radiating everywhere
and illuminating the earth’s four corners.

Moses descended as if upon angel’s wings,
weightless cradling the stone tablets
in the eye of raging winds.

Despite his soaring soul,
the prophet was the aleph of Vayikra
most modest of all the letters
unheard, only seen,
to be known internally, intuitively,
as the most humble of anyone
ever to walk the earth.

Though Moses appeared as a Prince in Egypt
his destiny was to be a lonely shepherd
to gather his sheep and God’s people
to draw them by example
nearer to God.

There was so much God needed from Moses –
to bring the plagues
to overpower Pharaoh,
to liberate the people and lead them to Sinai,
to commune with God and pass along the Word,
to construct the Tabernacle and create a home for God
that Divinity might dwell within every Israelite heart
and thereby comfort God from loneliness.

After all God’s expectations and demands
we might expect Moses’ strength to be depleted,
that he would be exhausted to the bone
and ready to say;
“Enough! O Redeemer - find a new prophet!
I can no longer bear the burden
and be Your voice and create bridges!
You are Almighty God!
I am but flesh!
My strength is gone!
My time expired!”

“Nonsense!” proclaimed the YHVH.
“I am not yet ready for your retirement!
My world remains shattered,
My light obscured,
My heart still broken and aching?
I need you to teach My people
and instill in their hearts
a deep love that may heal My wound.
for I cannot do this for Myself.”

Alas, the Creator-Redeemer’s needs were clear –
to be close, so very close to Moses
that the prophet and Israel together
might wipe away God’s tears
and restore God’s heart
and heal God’s Name.

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Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed his duties as Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in November 1988. A native of Los Angeles, he earned a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley...

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