In the Shad­ow of a Burn­ing Bush: Poems on Exodus

Yakov Azriel
  • Review
By – January 9, 2012
In the Shad­ow of a Burn­ing Bush is Yakov Azriel’s sec­ond vol­ume of Torah-themed poet­ry. In this new vol­ume, Azriel, a trans­plant­ed New York­er liv­ing in Israel since the 1970’s, has cre­at­ed a poet­ic com­men­tary on the Book of Exo­dus. Despite their com­mon theme, the poems in this col­lec­tion vary sig­nif­i­cant­ly in style, rang­ing from son­net to free verse to haiku. The poems all begin with a selec­tion of text from Exo­dus, and some also con­tain text from sources like the Hag­gadah, Rab­bi Nach­man of Braslav, or oth­er bib­li­cal vers­es. The voice of the poems changes through­out the col­lec­tion as well. Some poems, like Par­ents,” feel very auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal even while con­nect­ed to the Exo­dus text. Some, like The Angel of Death Does Not Pass over Us,” relate more to the col­lec­tive Jew­ish expe­ri­ence of his­to­ry, in this case, the Holo­caust, while oth­ers, like Yig­dal,” focus on a rela­tion­ship with God. There are some poems here that work too hard to make a point. Despite that, this col­lec­tion has much to offer. This vol­ume would be a wor­thy com­po­nent of a selec­tion of cre­ative resources for Torah study. There are also some poems here, like Four Daugh­ters and Their Moth­er” or Egypt­ian Haikus,” which lend them­selves to being read around the seder table.
Hara E. Per­son was ordained by Hebrew Union Col­lege-Jew­ish Insti­tute of Reli­gion. She is a writer and editor.

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