She is Gone (Part 1)
Parshat Vayeira is a Parsha of tests, of a miracle birth of a child to Avram and Sarai and the Akeydah. If this is not enough, there is the story of the guests at the home of Sarai and Avram, Sodom, Lot's wife, and Sarai's dismissal of Hagar and her son Yishmael to the desert. Each story in Parshat Vayeira is worthy of a drash. Justice is not done by just writing about a one subject.
Read each year on the holiday of Rosh Hashannah are both the stories of Hagar and Ishmael and the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, where Avram brings his son Yitzhak to the top of Har Moriah to sacrifice him, as God had requested. The focus of the Akeydah is Avraham for his great faith. Missing from the narrative is Sarah. Once the Akeydah happens we never hear from Sarah again and it is assumed that she dies from the shock of hearing about the Akeydah. This poem is about the Akeydah. It is about Avram and Yitzhak, but it also about Sarai, the loving mother.
Please note that I have written a second poem for Parshat Vayeira. I will publish it separately, probably later this evening. I like to keep poems separated so that I don't forget about them. Please know, however, that they complement one another. I apologize to you that you will receive two emails from me this evening.
I hope that in some small way these poems help you to return to the text and sit with Parshat Vayeira for a while. It is worth your while.
She is Gone
While the blood pours from the ram.
While sweat drips from his forehead.
While his fingers still tremble
and his belly still quakes.
While he lays on the hard ground and weeps,
she is gone.
Before the fire turns to embers
Before the fat releases greasy smoke.
Before he cleans the knife.
Before the scent of smoke ascends to the heavens.
Before the imprint of ropes fade from his wrists.
She is no more.
In the silence of the mountaintop
the sound of a mother bird echoes.
Its sad cry meanders among the rocks.
Clouds weep from the mountaintop.
She is everywhere.
She is nowhere.
Her nothingness fills the space.
There is no sound as they descend.
As tears blur their vision.
As they trip over small stones.
As blood stains their robes.
As they shiver.
As they stagger.
As they look neither
to the right
nor to the left
she is still gone.
As he loses his words.
As he asks himself why.
As he thinks of his mother.
As he thinks of his God.
as they ascended.
As a breeze blows by them.
Both lift their eyes.
Both feel the wind
caress their cold cheeks.
She is gone.
They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son.
Then a messenger of יהוה called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Genesis 22:9-11
וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח אַבְרָהָם֙ אֶת־יָד֔וֹ וַיִּקַּ֖ח אֶת־הַֽמַּאֲכֶ֑לֶת לִשְׁחֹ֖ט אֶת־בְּנֽוֹ׃
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֵלָ֜יו מַלְאַ֤ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אַבְרָהָ֣ם ׀ אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי׃
Interesting podcasts that I listened to this week which helped me immeasurably with these poems:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9K6hT4zp1g Rabbi Dov Linzer on Akeidat Yitzchak
https://www.jtsa.edu/torah/women-of-faith/ JTS's Women of Faith
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s3kQSZ_Qxk Rabbi Sachs on Leonard Cohen's You Want it Darker
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0nmHymgM7Y Leonard Cohen's You Want it Darker