Exodus Classification of Plantlife

By Rabbi Gray Myrseth
Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

You shall take a bunch of hyssop
and dip it in the blood that is in the basin
and extend it to the lintel and the doorposts
and not one of you shall go out from the entrance of your house until morning. (Exodus 12:22)

When a fence bows before a storm,
animals run loose, hooved feet catching
in the gap.

Downriver all the uncleared tables;
That sound is either wailing or it’s wind.
We paint the doorframe red
to keep away the angels.

Hyssop leaves are bound together for a brush.
Hyssop leaves can be preserved by drying.

Remember this day—you and your children
and your children’s children—every generation’s
hand is on the brush. You tell us to remember
when You brought us out. You with Your might,
You with Your terrible grace. While we stand
still trembling in the grip of our captivity

You tell us to remember
all that’s yet to come.

Hyssop is a wild shrub of uncertain identity.
Hyssop is a mistranslation that grows best in partial sun.

If I call this a love poem
will it lead us into knowing?
Or out into the break
of waves and days


Rabbi Gray Myrseth was ordained in 2017 by the Hebrew College Rabbinical School of Newton, MA, and is currently serving as Director of Youth Programs at Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont, CA.

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