When this man prays in private
Leaving a space for silence and
We learn that we, too,
Can own a space in the holy dialogue
Between God and his people
A one-on-one – alive, immediate, almost breathless.
And when this man sings his prayer,
With urgency and gentleness
We can feel our own voices
Lift to the dance of language
Our throats and lips, our tongues,
Soaring in sorrow or celebration.
When this man’s body sways in prayer,
Each bend and gesture a sign of love
Or reverential doubt
We can feel the tug on our own muscles:
Bone and blood accepting the mitzvah
Of the dance . . .
And in unembarrassed wholeness
Our bodies yield their stiffness
Our voices are suddenly beautiful
Our private murmurings flow free from the prison of self.
Heart and voice and limbs
Ascending the ladder of longing,
We are Israel, hearing, in all our ways of being,
Hearing at last.
published in Sources of Jewish Poetry: A Thirty-Year Shirim Retrospective. Vol. 30/2 and 31/1, 2012-13.