This week’s parsha lays out for us a vision of a powerful communal ceremony of the laying on of hands:

“Assemble the whole Israelite community, and bring the Levites forward before the Lord. Let the Israelites lay their hands upon the Levites, and let Aaron designate the Levites before the Lord as an elevation offering from the Israelites, that they may perform the service of the Lord. The Levites will then lay their hands upon the heads of the bulls…to make expiation for the Levites.” (Leviticus, 8:10 – 8:12)

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In an age where body-based wisdom and healing is finally becoming more widely respected, it is particularly wonderful to read these Biblical passages about the transformative power of touch.

The root verb for this laying of hands is‘s-m-k’ – סמכ…the root of the word ‘smicha’ – which is the ritual of Rabbinic ordination. Ideally smicha connotes that, instead of just bestowing a paper diploma, there is an actual transference of energy that takes place as one takes on that communal role of becoming a Rabbi, a leader and teacher. Tragically, it is said that the secret to this ‘energy transference’ has been lost and so is not practiced anymore. How can we as a society and as a religion get back “in touch” with the more body-oriented mystically-informed truths of our tradition?  

 This is a poem calling for such a reorientation towards sacred embodiment, where our prayers and our palms meet, creating healing and transformation.
To Place a Palm

Imagine the intention
To place a palm
upon a person
And with that touch
Turn them to priest
...or priestess?

And an entire nation of people
Gathered for that purpose

It’s a certain kind of physics
We have yet to formulate

These ancient scrolls are hardly data hard and dictum
in the marble halls of man

but they hold a certain kind of certainty
for those who understand

for those who read reality
upon a scroll of skin

Symbol won’t suffice
For my sort of sacrifice

When I lay my hand upon your sleeve
I want the land to heave
With energy

I want light to more than metaphor
But move and make a world
Where emotion is a motion
that endures

I want tongue
To make a waterway of change

I want prostration to move mountains
Purge pollution
pacify pain

I want a photosynthesis of feeling
That leans towards the sun

I want a poem
To page
The powerful
And watch them stand and run

I want prayer
To speak
to silence every gun

So let us place
our palms 
with purpose
and let forgiveness
lace our thumbs

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