Beads for the Mes­si­ah’s Bride: Poems on Leviticus

Yakov Azriel
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By – September 16, 2011
Poet­ry about reli­gion often implies a dichoto­my between an ide­al way of liv­ing inspired by the Divine and human evil. The split may become even more obvi­ous when con­sid­er­ing the Book of Leviti­cus, which details numer­ous reli­gious pro­hi­bi­tions and the severe con­se­quences of dis­obey­ing any of these laws. Yakov Azriel writes beyond the dry, relent­less­ly harsh qual­i­ty of Leviti­cus and brings the heart to this top­ic in this col­lec­tion. Con­sid­er the title poem, in which the author hopes that his med­i­ta­tions may expand beyond their sur­face appear­ance, May songs I write be brought as beads — / Beads for the Messiah’s wife…Perhaps she’ll take the beads I string/​To wear when she cel­e­brates.” Link­ing one’s human­i­ty with a plea for prayer and deep wor­ship is cen­tral to Azriel’s vision and quest in which, “…And there are the tru­ly righteous…Their soul becomes a mir­ror they hold up/​To God, reflect­ing His face,/To God, the soul of the world.” The beau­ti­ful son­nets and free verse of Beads are a won­der­ful start­ing point for Torah study, repen­tance, and true worship.
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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