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where grass can never be called straw

A poem for Nissan, and an everyday reminder.


מצרים לא יכול לִמצוֹא במפה
מצרים לא יכול לִמצוֹא באטלס
לצאת ממצרים היא כל יום
לצאת ממצרים היא קפיצה נפשית

אנו חיים בעולם של חלומות
ועלינו להתעורר את עצמנו למקום חדש
פראי ופתוח
בתוך רחם פראי
לִמצוֹא לא לבד אנחנו
ברחמנות
בתוך המקום שבו הדשא לא יכול להיקרא קש
ורגב לא יכול להיקרא לבנה
כדי לִמצוֹא את השם של(ך/נו) בחיי כל חייהם וכל שמשתנה
במדבר
מעבר החלומות של בני אדם

Mitsrayim cannot be found on a map
Mitsrayim cannot be found in an atlas
Leaving Mitsrayim is every day
Leaving Mitsrayim is a mental leap

We live in a world of dreams
and we must awaken ourselves into a new place
wild and open
within a wild womb
to discover we are not alone
with compassion
within the Place, where grass cannot be called ‘straw’
and a clod of earth cannot be called ‘brick’
to find (y)our name in the life of all that lives and all that changes
in the Wilderness
beyond the dreams of human ken

A stream of flowers between fields of wheat (credit: unknown, copyright orphan)

A stream of flowers between fields of wheat (credit: unknown, copyright orphan)


This is pretty much how I understand the Exodus as allegory for a daily practice of being liberated from self-delusion.

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words.

1 comment to where grass can never be called straw

  • This poem that I wrote on this date last year (11 April 2016) is an argument for expansive interpretation over narrow translation, especially when encountering the language of myth and dreams. If language limits the extent to which we can think and dream, so too the broader language of symbolic associations through which meaning is invented. A surefire way to limit the capability of a myth as a vehicle for allegory and metaphor is to specify its setting and characters in history and geography. For this reason, I never translate מדבר (midbar) as desert, or מצרים (mitsrayim) as Egypt. It’s not that I oppose these associations. Rather, I want myth to remain potent, useful, and wise rather than irrelevant, obscure, or even mistaken for history. חג פסח שמח

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