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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Longings


Parshat B'haalotecha is not a parsha to hastily skim over as there are so many different life lessons contained in these four chapters. Just a few are mentioned here. You'll have to read the parsha for the rest!

It is in Parshat B'Haalotecha that we learn about occasional second chances granted to people, at least when it came to the Passover sacrifice. We read a cautionary tale on the importance of careful speech when reading the account of Miriam and Aaron's criticisms of Moses and his new wife and it is through Moshe’s heartfelt response to Miriam’s tz'araat that we can learn about the deep value of a short and direct heartfelt prayer

It is through the topic of food, of all things, that we learn about human behavior.


The riffraff in their midst felt a gluttonous craving; and then the Israelites wept and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish that we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.  Now our gullets are shriveled. There is nothing at all! Nothing but this manna to look to!”


Numbers 11:1-6


The Israelites, whose nostalgia for the food in Egypt creates a strong longing to return, so they could again savor the tasty melons and garlic, viscerally recall the food, but forget they were enslaved.

Before the complaint about food is loudly issued, there is a first silent complaint, one that doesn't point to anything in particular. We know that after the complaint is issued, a fire is created by God as punishment and then the fire stops after Moshe intercedes.



The people took to complaining bitterly before the LORD. The LORD heard and was incensed: a fire of the LORD broke out against them, ravaging the outskirts of the camp.

The people cried out to Moses. Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down.

That place was named Taberah, because a fire of the LORD had broken out against them.



It is this silent longing to be elsewhere or to eat different food, or to be someone else that I write about this week. I think that we are all susceptible to longings to go back in time, to possess what others have, to long for something which is beyond our grasp. I hope that this poem can express this longing in some small way.

Each week since October 7th, I have completed these posts with the hope that we will hear good news soon. What do I long for? I long for there to be a different way for me to conclude these posts. Please let that day come soon.


Hoping to hear better news soon.


Leann


PS


Some of you received a request from me a few days ago to write a prayer in 5-10 words, similar to the prayer Moshe exclaimed when praying for his sister Miriam.

I have collected a number of these heartfelt expressions and hope to create another post with your replies, if I am able, b'li neder. Thanks very much to those of you who responded.


 


Longings


A shaggy dandelion longs to be a rose.

that crimson flower so admired,

garbed in queenly petals and

extending her sharpened thorns

to those who dare to come

too close.

Dandelion glances upward from her spot wedged in a crack

in the ruins of a crumbling sidewalk.

There is the rose,

glorious to behold.

Dandelion longs for a different life,

set up high where no one can crush her petals under their feet.

She is silent,

only sways,

but she can feel the longing.


The garden ant longs to be a butterfly 

as it heaves heavy loads upon its back on the garden floor.

It glances skyward and spies the glittering swarm of color and light.

It wishes for a life different than constant toil.

To fly,

to be a tangle of fluttering wings scattered with sunshine.

Viewing the world from above,

looking downward

on flowers raising their heads,

beckoning to him with showy colors.

The garden ant does not demand, only plods forward,

and through its walk,

we know it understands longing.



The tree sparrow peeks upward through its hiding place 

wedged between the sharp leaves of the holly bush

to the hawk soaring far above.

As the sparrow's feathers tremble,

just for a moment

he wishes he could be a hawk,

to gracefully glide on the air currents above.

To be the hunter and not the hunted ,

if just for an hour.

From his hidden perch the hawk’s life seems so easy, 

all glides and swoops .

Sparrow cowers below, afraid to leave his spot among the leaves.

 The sparrow understands longing.


The human confined to a chair wishes that she could once again

rise from her brokenness.

Rise and run again with the wind in her hair.


She silently longs for movement,


not unlike the ant who can crawl


or the hawk who can soar,


or the sparrow who can hide.


Not unlike the butterfly who can flutter,


or the rose who can enchant.


Just to be like a dandelion who can grow anywhere.


Anywhere at all.






 

Other posts from Words Have Wings on Parshat B'haalotecha.






 


הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים רַ֖ע


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4 Comments


Guest
Jun 22

A wonderful poem!! The imagery is excellent! Most people always want something better that is not attainable. The ones who are content with what they have are usually the happiest.

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Guest
Jun 23
Replying to

Thank you! Sameach b’chelko.

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Guest
Jun 19

The longing just to be able to smile without feeling guilty about the longing and suffering of so many who are waiting to smile or will never smile again

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Guest
Jun 19
Replying to

Thank you for taking the time to comment....very beautiful and sad.

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