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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Four Hundredth Post

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

I wanted to mark this Words Have Wings post as my 400th. I wanted this special post to be a separate post from poetry, but a way to mark this passage of time and what Words Have Wings has meant to me.

I began to write this blog as a way to process the experience of saying the Kaddish as I observed the year of mourning for my mother, Irma Gershkowitz.

I had taken some notes when saying kaddish for my father, but had never put them on the computer so they were lost. I didn’t want to that to happen a second time so I began to write this blog.

Why a blog instead of a diary? Perhaps it was related to a friend who was enthusiastically writing a food blog. I had no idea how a blog worked but somehow I understood that when writing a blog my words and photos would travel out there, somewhere. I had no idea of who would read these posts; just that my voice would be out there and I would begin to write about the transitions that occur while saying kaddish.

Fast forward a few months, and completely by chance I volunteered to give a D’var Torah at the KI morning minyan. Even more to my own surprise, I decided to write a poem, something I hadn’t done since my teenage years. I wrote the poem swiftly and was still writing it 5 minutes before I read it. I read that poem and then just kept writing and the morning minyan at KI kept listening, which they continue to do unto this day.(For this I am most grateful!) I think that is when Words Have Wings was really born and I could feel my mother’s happiness in each of the early poems that I wrote.

It is to my mother’s credit that this blog is written. She was the impetus to write and perhaps, just perhaps, it is a little bit of her storytelling abilities that linger on these pages for she was a storyteller who only got her chance to tell her story much later in her life.

This blog has changed little since my first set of poems. I still structure my week around the Parsha. I find that the Parsha gives shape to my week. The week is divided into study time, writing and editing time, finding an appropriate image to go with the poem, publishing it and then reading in at KI. As a retiree, it gives me food for thought each and every week.

Torah study is endless and the cycle only grows richer with time. I am grateful for Sefaria and for the podcasts that help me gain some degree of understanding so that I might share with you.

One of my favorite things about writing Words Have Wings is receiving comments from you, my readers. Some of you are friends and some of you I do not know at all, but on the occasions that I receive communication from you, it helps me to complete the circle of writing. One thing that I have learned over these 400 posts is that one writes to process things that live in one’s soul, but when a soul touches someone else’s soul, that makes a complete circle. Words written fly off into the world and they become someone else’s.

Perhaps this is what Words Have Wings is really about.

I write this post during the period of counting the Omer. We count the Omer to get from one holiday to another, from one season to another and maybe the act of counting brings us from one status to another. I have watching as the number of posts has slowly ticked up toward 400 and it has also been a counting of sorts. This counting as taken me from one status to another, through a number of difficult periods of time in the history of our nation, of Israel and of our planet. Words Have Wings is one infinitesimal count among so many and. my voice is one soft whisper among so many others. I am grateful for the opportunity to whisper to you through this blog and for you to complete the circle and read it.

May we all go from strength to strength. 400 is here and post 401 is coming soon. With Gd's help, onto writing post 401 for Parshat Emor in a few days.

With deep thanks to you, my readers, for sharing words and thoughts with me. May you go from strength to strength.


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