An Interlinear Haftarah Poem for B'reshit (Selected verses from Isaiah 42:5 - 43:10)

 On Parents and Their Rebellious Children



Photographic reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. It contains the entire Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, apart from some small damaged parts. This manuscript was probably written by a scribe of the Jewish sect of the Essenes around the second century BC. It is therefore over a 1000 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscripts.

ה  כֹּה-אָמַר הָאֵל יְהוָה, בּוֹרֵא הַשָּׁמַיִם וְנוֹטֵיהֶם, רֹקַע הָאָרֶץ, וְצֶאֱצָאֶיהָ; נֹתֵן נְשָׁמָה לָעָם עָלֶיהָ, וְרוּחַ לַהֹלְכִים בָּהּ.
5 Thus saith God the LORD, Who that created the heavens, and stretched them forth, Who that spread forth the earth and that which cometh out of it, Who gave breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
Just in case you forgot who is in charge here, take a look around.
See this sky? You didn't make that.
See this earth and all the living things that prance and pounce on it? The sustenance that grows out of the soil? 
You didn't make that.
The life that surrounds you and lives within you. 
You didn't make that.
I made this. This is my house. I pay the bills and keep the lights on and set the universe in motion.
You. You just reside here for a time.

ו  אֲנִי יְהוָה קְרָאתִיךָ בְצֶדֶק, וְאַחְזֵק בְּיָדֶךָ; וְאֶצָּרְךָ, וְאֶתֶּנְךָ לִבְרִית עָם--לְאוֹר גּוֹיִם.
6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations;
We are intimate, you and I. I and thou. 
You reach up and grasp my hand like a toddler learning to walk. 
Or a lover with a tender touch.
Or an aging parent who stumbles.
My hand holding yours is a sacred agreement. 
We are always connected, 
and I will never let you go. 
ז  לִפְקֹחַ, עֵינַיִם עִוְרוֹת; לְהוֹצִיא מִמַּסְגֵּר אַסִּיר, מִבֵּית כֶּלֶא יֹשְׁבֵי חֹשֶׁךְ.
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.
Darkness is terrifying, and to escape the vastness of it you close your eyes,
not realizing that while you refused to look, the light came.
Open your eyes. The darkness isn't permanent, and 
I will hold up the lamp that leads you out. 
ח  אֲנִי יְהוָה, הוּא שְׁמִי; וּכְבוֹדִי לְאַחֵר לֹא-אֶתֵּן, וּתְהִלָּתִי לַפְּסִילִים.
8 I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.
 If you do not forget me, I will not forget you.
But please, remember the real me, not the images of me that 
others have created, the lies and slander.
Remember my name.
ט  הָרִאשֹׁנוֹת, הִנֵּה-בָאוּ; וַחֲדָשׁוֹת אֲנִי מַגִּיד, בְּטֶרֶם תִּצְמַחְנָה אַשְׁמִיעַ אֶתְכֶם.  {פ}
9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. 
 I am no fortune teller, but I know things. 
I can step back from your life a few paces, a thousand yards
and see things you cannot. 
Your view is limited. Open your eyes and see what others see.
What I see. 
י  שִׁירוּ לַיהוָה שִׁיר חָדָשׁ, תְּהִלָּתוֹ מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ; יוֹרְדֵי הַיָּם וּמְלֹאוֹ, אִיִּים וְיֹשְׁבֵיהֶם.
10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth; ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
People sing to Me all the time.
I want to hear a new song. Sing me your song.
Not his song, Not her song, Not David's song.
Your song.  
Even if you have sung it before.
Even if you use their words and their tunes.
Make it new. Make it yours. 
יא  יִשְׂאוּ מִדְבָּר וְעָרָיו, חֲצֵרִים תֵּשֵׁב קֵדָר; יָרֹנּוּ יֹשְׁבֵי סֶלַע, מֵרֹאשׁ הָרִים יִצְוָחוּ.
11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of Sela exult, let them shout from the top of the mountains.
יב  יָשִׂימוּ לַיהוָה, כָּבוֹד; וּתְהִלָּתוֹ, בָּאִיִּים יַגִּידוּ.
12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare His praise in the islands.

The entire earth sings songs to me.
Trees and deserts.
Sidewalks and skyscrapers.
The sea roars timeless lyrics and the mountaintops scream out 
to me. 
What do they know that you do not?
What secrets do they hold -- those of simple mind and simple existence -- 
that lets them sing without shame?
Are you thinking too hard about where you came from to let go and feel the truth?
יג  יְהוָה כַּגִּבּוֹר יֵצֵא, כְּאִישׁ מִלְחָמוֹת יָעִיר קִנְאָה; יָרִיעַ, אַף-יַצְרִיחַ--עַל-אֹיְבָיו, יִתְגַּבָּר.  {ס}
13 The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He whips up his rage. He will cry, yea, He will shout aloud, He will prove Himself mighty against His enemies.
Code-switch. Mood-switch.
The same hand that reached out from above to guide you and keep you steady
can rear back and smack you if you stop the song.
If you stop singing, if you become an enemy
Stay you and stay safe 
יד  הֶחֱשֵׁיתִי, מֵעוֹלָם--אַחֲרִישׁ, אֶתְאַפָּק; כַּיּוֹלֵדָה אֶפְעֶה, אֶשֹּׁם וְאֶשְׁאַף יָחַד.
14 I have long time held My peace, I have been still, and refrained Myself; now will I cry like a laboring woman, gasping and panting at once.

Destruction, too, is a birthing process.
Anger gestates.
טו  אַחֲרִיב הָרִים וּגְבָעוֹת, וְכָל-עֶשְׂבָּם אוֹבִישׁ; וְשַׂמְתִּי נְהָרוֹת לָאִיִּים, וַאֲגַמִּים אוֹבִישׁ.
15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and will dry up the pools.
 Soon after Anger is born, it is immature,
a destructive toddler,
knocking down the beautiful things the mother/father created for it:
Mountains and hills to romp and climb.
herbs to reap and eat,
rivers and pools for feeling the magic of floating.
טז  וְהוֹלַכְתִּי עִוְרִים, בְּדֶרֶךְ לֹא יָדָעוּ--בִּנְתִיבוֹת לֹא-יָדְעוּ, אַדְרִיכֵם; אָשִׂים מַחְשָׁךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם לָאוֹר, וּמַעֲקַשִּׁים לְמִישׁוֹר--אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים, עֲשִׂיתִם וְלֹא עֲזַבְתִּים.
16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, in paths that they knew not will I lead them; I will make darkness light before them, and rugged places plain. These things will I do, and I will not leave them undone.
But even amid the destruction
I will reach out a hand again
and let you grasp on so I can lead you
toddler
lover
parent
to a brighter place with smoother paths
I promise.

יז  נָסֹגוּ אָחוֹר יֵבֹשׁוּ בֹשֶׁת, הַבֹּטְחִים בַּפָּסֶל; הָאֹמְרִים לְמַסֵּכָה, אַתֶּם אֱלֹהֵינוּ.  {פ}
17 They shall be turned back, greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say unto molten images: 'Ye are our gods.' {P}

יח  הַחֵרְשִׁים, שְׁמָעוּ; וְהַעִוְרִים, הַבִּיטוּ לִרְאוֹת.
18 Listen, you who are deaf; You blind ones, look up and see! 
It is good to know that God, even God, rages at the children
who have turned their backs on his teachings,
no matter how beautifully packaged and presented.
They push the lessons aside and 
refuse to see
refuse to listen
refuse to heed

כא  יְהוָה חָפֵץ, לְמַעַן צִדְקוֹ; יַגְדִּיל תּוֹרָה, וְיַאְדִּיר.
21 The LORD was pleased, for His righteousness' sake, to make the teaching great and glorious.
כב  וְהוּא, עַם-בָּזוּז וְשָׁסוּי, הָפֵחַ בַּחוּרִים כֻּלָּם, וּבְבָתֵּי כְלָאִים הָחְבָּאוּ; הָיוּ לָבַז וְאֵין מַצִּיל, מְשִׁסָּה וְאֵין-אֹמֵר הָשַׁב.
22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled, they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison-houses; they are for a prey, and none delivereth, for a spoil, and none saith: 'Restore.'

We try to make the teaching palatable, even delicious
And still our children choke on it and spit it out.

And yet, and yet
How easy it is to be sanctimonious about
Their deafness, their blindness, their rebellion.

כג  מִי בָכֶם, יַאֲזִין זֹאת; יַקְשִׁב וְיִשְׁמַע, לְאָחוֹר.
23 Who among you will give ear to this? Who will hearken and hear for the time to come?
Can we see their distress?
We were blind teenagers
and we rage at our children for what they do not see.
As if they choose the blindness and want to live in the darkness
We say, “Open your eyes! Look!”
So they close their eyes tighter, squeezing us out of their sight
and stay in the darkness.
כה  וַיִּשְׁפֹּךְ עָלָיו חֵמָה אַפּוֹ, וֶעֱזוּז מִלְחָמָה; וַתְּלַהֲטֵהוּ מִסָּבִיב וְלֹא יָדָע, וַתִּבְעַר-בּוֹ וְלֹא-יָשִׂים עַל-לֵב.
25 Therefore He poured upon him the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle; and it set him on fire round about, yet he knew not, and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.
They are blind and we are pointing, “Look here!”
They are deaf and we are screaming, “Listen to me!”
So they do not see the light, and they do not hear our rage
But they cannot hear our reassurances:
א  וְעַתָּה כֹּה-אָמַר יְהוָה, בֹּרַאֲךָ יַעֲקֹב, וְיֹצֶרְךָ, יִשְׂרָאֵל:  אַל-תִּירָא כִּי גְאַלְתִּיךָ, קָרָאתִי בְשִׁמְךָ לִי-אָתָּה.
1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art Mine.
I’m still here. I want to save you.
My child, the one I named.
You are still mine.
Can you see me?
ב  כִּי-תַעֲבֹר בַּמַּיִם אִתְּךָ-אָנִי, וּבַנְּהָרוֹת לֹא יִשְׁטְפוּךָ:  כִּי-תֵלֵךְ בְּמוֹ-אֵשׁ לֹא תִכָּוֶה, וְלֶהָבָה לֹא תִבְעַר-בָּךְ.
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Reach for me when you feel like you’re drowning.
Call me to guide you through the burning pain of adolescence.
I’ll lead you out.
Are you listening?

ג  כִּי, אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל, מוֹשִׁיעֶךָ; נָתַתִּי כָפְרְךָ מִצְרַיִם, כּוּשׁ וּסְבָא תַּחְתֶּיךָ.
3 For I am the LORD thy God, The Holy One of Israel, thy Savior; I have given Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
I am desperate now.
Here! Remember all I’ve done for you in the past.
I birthed you, fed you, clothed you, tended your wounds.
I have sacrificed myself and others
For you.
ד  מֵאֲשֶׁר יָקַרְתָּ בְעֵינַי נִכְבַּדְתָּ, וַאֲנִי אֲהַבְתִּיךָ; וְאֶתֵּן אָדָם תַּחְתֶּיךָ, וּלְאֻמִּים תַּחַת נַפְשֶׁךָ.
4 Since thou art precious in My sight, and honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and peoples for thy life.
I love you.
ח  הוֹצִיא עַם-עִוֵּר, וְעֵינַיִם יֵשׁ; וְחֵרְשִׁים, וְאָזְנַיִם לָמוֹ.
8 The blind people that have eyes shall be brought forth, and the deaf that have ears.
ט  כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם נִקְבְּצוּ יַחְדָּו, וְיֵאָסְפוּ לְאֻמִּים--מִי בָהֶם יַגִּיד זֹאת, וְרִאשֹׁנוֹת יַשְׁמִיעֻנוּ; יִתְּנוּ עֵדֵיהֶם וְיִצְדָּקוּ, וְיִשְׁמְעוּ וְיֹאמְרוּ אֱמֶת.
9 All the nations are gathered together, and the peoples are assembled; who among them can declare this, and announce to us former things? Let them bring their witnesses, that they may be justified; and let them hear, and say: 'It is truth.'
Eventually, you will be here
And you will realize that I am right.
What I have promised has come to pass.
When you fell, I helped you up.
When you reached out your hand, I grasped it tight and held on

But by then it will be too late
Your own rebellious children will be deaf and blind to you.

I will still love you.

.



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