Imagine God Sitting Shiva*

וַיִּקְח֣וּ בְנֵֽי־אַ֠הֲרֹ֠ן נָדָ֨ב וַאֲבִיה֜וּא אִ֣ישׁ מַחְתָּת֗וֹ וַיִּתְּנ֤וּ בָהֵן֙ אֵ֔שׁ וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ עָלֶ֖יהָ קְטֹ֑רֶת וַיַּקְרִ֜יבוּ לִפְנֵ֤י יְהֹוָה֙ אֵ֣שׁ זָרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹ֦א צִוָּ֖ה אֹתָֽם׃
Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before יהוה alien fire, which had not been enjoined upon them.
וַתֵּ֥צֵא אֵ֛שׁ מִלִּפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה וַתֹּ֣אכַל אוֹתָ֑ם וַיָּמֻ֖תוּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃
And fire came forth from יהוה and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of יהוה.
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן הוּא֩ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ לֵאמֹר֙ בִּקְרֹבַ֣י אֶקָּדֵ֔שׁ וְעַל־פְּנֵ֥י כׇל־הָעָ֖ם אֶכָּבֵ֑ד וַיִּדֹּ֖ם אַהֲרֹֽן׃
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what יהוה meant by saying: Through those near to Me I show Myself holy,  
~Parasha Shemini, Leviticus 10:1-3

The rebbes of the Jersusalem Talmud
in the City of Prayer, City of Peace, imagined
God sitting shiva* for Aaron’s fallen sons,
Nadav and Abihu.  The splendor of God’s tears
for those two songs fills the same swaying
grief-sea created at Bereshit!*  by all our tears
for each and every loss,
                                    caused by whose
shortsighted, impulsive ways?—Ours?
Oh, Mystery, or Yours?—sluicing through
all the pulsing, chest-heaved sobs
of why did….?  how did….?   We
didn’t mean to….

                        But of course the Mystery
in Their vast and endless About-to-be-ness
is who and what we are.  Let us remember this
as we watch the rain fall gently on the weeping
cherry blossoms as they bob among the burnished
swaying twigs, while beneath them,
newly shorn, the green grass shines. 

Must the fires
of every desire that adorns this brightly
jeweled world include the ache of grief,
at every loss?  Perhaps even the rocks weep
as they endure our harm and hate for one another. 
May it be on the very day of our greatest pain
we will see most clearly how to survive.
*shiva-Hebrew, formal 7 day mourning period for the dead
*Bereshit!-Hebrew, “In the beginnings” first word of the first
book of the Hebrew Bible
        Omer 12 Hod she b’Gevurah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s