Messages for Elul #5

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, September 23, 2022 / 27 Elul 5782

Summary: I have a body of Jewish and religious poetry, many of which I have composed on the eve of our Jewish holidays. This poem captures some thoughts that speak to me of our new year and the introspective work that accompanies it. I want to wish you all a wonderful Shanah Tovah,
Rav D

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Reading Time: One minute

A twelfth grader in the house is all excitement,
stands in the place where all is possible.
Futures spill out like waters in a fountain,
filling every crevice where doubt likes to linger.
His unled life is ahead and
everything shimmers on the water’s skin,
like he did when I held him at three days old.

Middle age creeps with shadows and insomnias.
Our unled lives reduced to a yellow pad
of incomplete to-do lists,
the one where each canceled line
reveals behind us
a thousand new lives never chosen,
of what we’ve done and what we might have done.
As though any of us could have known in advance
the way life spools out a trail of what-might-have-beens.

We must befriend our lost worlds,
like that first true friend with whom your secrets spilled out,
and peals of laughter because you had found one another,
among all the waters in the fountain.
Everything is what it is, and not another thing,
remarked Bishop Joseph Butler, and the pop song says
things happen, that’s all they ever do.

Five days before Rosh Hashanah, the clichéd call came in,
an estranged friend with cancer
wanting to square away the past.
At each new beautiful beginning,
what of the past do we still want to shoulder?
Few straight edges in life to square away, I think.
just the lives we’ve led, the words we’d take back
the unsaid things that needed speaking.
Say them now.

You might as well be yourself, taught Reb Zusiya,
the one you are and were,
the only one who can make tomorrow different,
make you finally into something else.
It’s all one corridor to the next moment,
and the one after that, precious, holy, short.

He was right in the end, Leibniz,
this is the best of all possible worlds
because it’s the one we’re given,
whatever happens in the future,
until all our futures are gone,
and all that remains is burnished appreciation
spilling into every crevice and gathering,
and the fountain of blessing, which is love,
transforms our every cliché at last
into illuminated acceptance.

Rabbi David Kosak
September 23, 2022/27 Elul 5782

Shabbat shalom,

Rav D

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