A Scent of the Soul by David Aladjem

This poem, which draws on a Hasidic teaching from the Sfat Emet, is a companion piece to Rabbi Cherina Eisenberg’s essay “The Holy Scent of Purim.”

Purim means lots:
Lots of noise
Lots of food
Lots of drink
Maybe too much of everything.

The Sfat Emes had a different idea:
He saw the smell of our joy
Wafting through the air
Filling us with a hint, a scent
Of the perfume of Gan Eden.

A scent can take us to another land
A place far far away
Many years ago.
Yet, it seems like it is
Right here, right now.

Maybe that is what he meant
Lots of noise and food
From the place we yearn to be
Can be a distraction
Leading us astray.

But the perfume of heaven
Feeling that we must turn aside
To see the bush that burns
Leaves us breathless
And is not consumed.

From that place of vision
A place where the perfume ascends
Like the sweet smell of the altar
To a rendezvous with the Divine.
Now, Purim comes into focus

Bringing its own sense to bear
Not vision, not hearing, not touch nor taste
But the most modest of senses
The sense that is humble, like Moses.
Leading us upwards

And as this sense opens like a rose
Our souls open up and we smell the scent of Gan Eden
Lifting us through the fiftieth gate
Until we become
Our own sweet savor.

May this be our lot for Purim.


David Aladjem is a student in the ALEPH rabbinic program.