Leah’s Song

Vayishlah By :  Yonatan Dahlen Student, The Rabbinical School, '16 Posted On Dec 5, 2014 / 5775 | דבר אחר | A Different Perspective

When you fell in love
Under a copper sky,
I saw you with her.
Sweat on your gentle lip,
You were weeping
Like the wadi in the rainy season.
And in my dreams,
I caught your tears.
Each one
Before it could hit the dust at your sandals.
If only I could be your tear catcher.
I would swallow every star
If you told me
Your tears come from Heaven.

When you broke your back
Under the work of fighting suns
You broke it for her.
You were screaming
Like the jackals at sunset.
And in my dreams,
I stretched my body
And covered the summer sky.
And I never scratched
Not even once
At my burnt skin.
If only I could be your huppah.
I would wrap you in the songs of our fathers
And rock your tired muscles to sleep.

When you snuck off
Under the secrets of the night,
You looked away from her.
You were trembling
Like the date palms in the summer wind.
And in my dreams,
I threw you to the ground.
You struck my face.
I kissed your hip.
If only I could be your walking stick.
I would wrestle you for eternity
If I knew that once,
Just once,
You would lean on me.

This poem reflects the efforts of JTS’s Tikkun Middot (Character Development) Project to infuse Jewish learning with elements of mindfulness and ethics, focusing on a different middah (character trait) each month. The middah for this month is savlanut (patience). In my opinion, the matriarch Leah is the paragon of this middah. She remains strong and steadfast through heartbreak and disappointment, through pain and rejection. This poem seeks to give voice to an otherwise silent character. While there is power in Leah’s silence, there is also a deep sense of injustice. Putting her in the faceless character of Jacob’s angel (Gen. 32:25–33) represents this struggle between the powerful and powerless. It is my hope that I have given a little air to our matriarch’s comforting wings.

The Tikkun Middot Project, sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, is a national program designed to explore inner attitudes and character development.