By CHAYA KAPLAN-LESTER
This week we meet Noah. The literal translation of Noah''s name, Noach, also means comfort. Thus, “Noah''s Ark” can actually be read as “Comfort''s Ark”. The ark of comfort stands as an archetype of all the varied walls of protection we construct around ourselves. It represents the havens of insulation to which we cling. It is fitting that we read this parsha just as we have left the sukkah – the epitome of a temporal structure. The sukkah is an embodied reminder that all the facades of comfort that we build in this world are but fleeting in comparison to the ultimate haven we must take in our connection to the Divine. This week''s poem juxtaposes the comfortable numbness of an insulated existence with the dis-ease of the external world and her endless woes. The poem''s narrative traces the path of one who rejects comfort & complacency and opts rather to plunge into the waiting deluge of the world’s pain. Our arks of comfort serve the crucial purpose of protecting and nurturing us. But perhaps their even greater purpose is to provoke us to transcend their very casing; to be the cage which awaits our necessary escape. What is your arc of comfort and what are its limitations? What is the comfort zone you are being called to break-free from? And what is one step you can take towards that transcendence? Ark Angel The synagogue of my youth her sanctuary was my ark it arched above my bowing head its wood was rich and dark my eyes would rise up ceilings curve which like a wave''s soft back bulged with the waters of our prayers which crashed on heavens black we sat in twos or family fours like creatures far from home while thirty feet into the air ark''s belly was our dome our needs were met as sure as breath is given by G-d''s wind our prayers were by attentive ear heard ere we need begin like flight of birds our voices rose within this vessel cage while just outside the sound was heard of a world in stormy rage and at the apex of the roof of our inverted ship a window round of painted glass let fall a single drip the dagger drip cut through the void of our sustaining womb sliced through the prayer that filled the air anointing me with doom for this small taste which wet my face with water of the world outside could penetrate and transform space like the tear of an angel''s cry and all that was once safe and sure transformed before my eyes into an overbearing storm of sharp and fiery lies beneath the bonds of beams of wood my restless nature grew till i cursed the arc which suckled me with claustrophobic rue beyond the casing of the cradle beyond the arc''s curved arms the sea called to my safe-sick soul with all her worldly charms and i cried back to G-d and fate like jonah in the fish a prayer so frantic for escape that G-d fulfilled my wish and spit me out with open mouth from within the whale cocoon delivered me to dark dread sea like one thrown from the womb and suddenly my mouth was filled with salt alien to my taste while sights and sounds of curse surround my fateful fall from grace i tremble tread among the dead beneath sky sore with rain and faced with earth''s reality the flood became my pain so terror seized i tore through sea in search of semblance of ship and found its curve beneath my feet submerged to arc''s round tip suspended calm and floating there with just its top revealed was island apexed synagogue which waters dare not conceal with weary want i climbed the curve which once had arched my head and from my mouth rained forth a song - a prayer for all the dead i peered into this hanging sphere through the window of painted glass and yearned for all that i had lost in the sanctuary of my past to be a bird caught in that cage or to be an angel on high i gazed as if into myself and silently i cried and at the apex of the roof of their inverted ship a window round of painted glass let fall a single drip .
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