Who By Fire: A Poem of Doubt and Return

Holiness dwells in this day 
and our souls are overwhelmed.
As a mirror reflects our image, 
this day reflects our Being.
In Truth, 
we open ourselves to judgment:
to the All Knowing, 
the Witness,
Remembering the knowledge, lost.
With honesty, 
we stand before the open Book of Remembrance
Which proclaims itself with arrogance,
And the seal of each person is there.
Mugshots of Divine Sparks,
Thumbprints on sacred scrolls.
The great shofar is sounded,
A still, small voice is heard.
The angels of our better nature are dismayed,
Seized by fear and trembling, crying, 
As they proclaim: 
The Day of our JUDGMENT!
And in our hearts we dust off the ever forgotten poem,
And we wonder if it is true.
That on Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed:
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall perish by water 
and who by fire,
Who by sword 
and who by beast,
Who by famine 
and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake 
and who by plague,
Who by strangulation 
and who by stoning,
Who shall have rest 
and who shall wander,
Who shall be at rest 
and who shall be tormented,
Who shall be exalted 
and who shall be brought low…
low… low.
Who shall be rich 
and who shall be poor. 
And if repentance, 
and righteousness 
will avert the severe decree.
The origin of humankind is DUST!
And dust is our end!
We earn our bread by exertion! 
We are like a broken shard, 
Like dry grass: a withered flower.
Like a passing shadow, 
And a vanishing cloud, 
Like a breeze that blows away,
And dust that scatters, 
Like a dream that flies away. 
But in our tears we remember:
The heart lives for ETERNITY! 
That surely there is no limit to our years, 
No end to the length of our days, 
No measure to the abundance of our glory.
When we call out to God’s Name
We acknowledge our lack of understanding.
And yet we pray:
Act for the sake of 
Your Name!
And sanctify 
Your Name!
Through those who sanctity 
Your Name!
And by what name, I am?
We called You El. 
We called You Roi.
We called You Shaddai.
We called You Yahweh.
We called You Difficult to Anger 
And Easy to Appease. 
Was that for us?
Was that for You?
We called you Teshuvah,
For You desire us to return from our path
And live. 
And live. And live. And live.
And live. And live. And live.
And live.
And as You wait 
for us.
So shall we, 
So shall we,
So shall we
return to You.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Ritualwell content is available for free thanks to the generous support of readers like you! Please help us continue to offer meaningful content with a donation today. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Rituals

Shop Ritualwell - Discover unique Judaica products

The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

Count On Telling Your Story: A Ritualwell In-Person Immersion

Join us for Count On Telling Your Story: A Ritualwell In-Person Immersion on Sunday, June 9th. Mix and mingle with old and new friends, enjoy delicious kosher-vegetarian food and engage in a variety of creative, thought-provoking sessions exploring rituals, writing, and art.

Get the latest from Ritualwell

Subscribe for the latest rituals, online learning opportunities, and unique Judaica finds from our store.

The Reconstructionist Network