Leviticus Unclench Those Hands

By Rabbi Gray Myrseth
Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Parashat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33)

He shall send away the live bird outside the city, into the open field.
This is how he shall effect atonement for the house and it will be ritually pure. (Leviticus 14:53)

It seems to me there is no escaping
from the work of praise. No ground
outside its frame,
no spare reply or costume
of address. Send the live phrase

outside the city,
out into the open field.
Beyond the camp
it spreads its wings,
path an arrow’s arc
across the sky.

When has the earthbound thing
grown smooth and whole and taken flight

When has the wind been strong enough
to lift my eyes from the ground

to fix them on the seething line
where ground (was it sand or sea?)
turns into trembling sky

The difference between thought and prayer
comes down to pressure. Can you open
your hand, let the form fly free?

My winged mouth, my current bones.
I wake with salt upon my lips.

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


Interested in a possible career in the rabbinate? Read Rabbi Dan Judson’s article “Jewish Lessons on Meaningful Work.“ Rabbi Judson is Dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. He has a PhD in Jewish history from Brandeis University.

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