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The land will make you crazy

07/29/2010

First, let me say that I’m a little disappointed. Last week, I put out a call for help regarding the Sh’ma. Gang: not one response. Maybe you all have nothing to say about listening/hearing and one-ness, but a) I don’t believe it; and b) jeez louise, I’m feeling awfully lonely.

Enough said. On to this week’s Torah portion, Eikev, the 3rd in the book of re-telling (otherwise known as Deuteronomy). My offering this week is the poem After Yet Another War in the Middle East. I’m not even sure which war inspired the original lament — Lebanon(Hezbollah)/Israel or Gaza(Hamas)/Israel, or any of a number of smaller and no less disturbing skirmishes and offensives. After each one, I edit, trying to get it right.

(Not to worry. I’m not going into a long treatise on my views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If you’re interested, the summary is as follows: though I feel a deep connection to the land (soil, mountains, wadis) of Israel, I get that more than one people have that deep connection and this relatively small amount of acreage has been the source of much anguish, violence, and stupidity.)

As canonical backdrop to the poem, consider the following passages from the text. There’s a lot more where this came from — pull out your First 5 Books & see Deuteronomy 7:12 through 11:25. And my upfront apologies for the gendered nature of God. This isn’t my translation. Also for the multiple-colored fonts. I just like all the colors.

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill, a land of wheat and barley, of vins, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat food without end, where you will lack nothing, a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you can mine copper.”

“Hear, O Israel! You are about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and more populous than you, great cities with sky-high walls… God will subdue them before you, that you may quickly dispossess and destroy them, as God promised you.”

“Keep all the Instruction that I command you this day, so that you may have the strength to enter and take possession of the land that you are about to cross into… that you may long endure upon the soil that God swore to your fathers to assign to them and to their heirs, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

“Every place on which your foot treads shall be yours. Your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the Euphrates to the Western Sea. No man shall stand up to you…


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