Another Poem from Rabbi Diane Elliot

This poem is part of Rabbi Diane Elliot’s collection of 49 poems, This Is the Day, Ha-Yom Yom, inspired by the ancient practice of counting the Omer. This mitzvah, described in the Torah, involved bringing an omer (a dry measure) of the spring barley harvest to be waved by the High Priest in the Tabernacle, much as we wave the lulav during the fall harvest festival of Sukkot: “You are to count from the day after the rest day (Passover), from the day you brought the Omer wave-offering—they are to be seven complete weeks. Until the say after the seventh week you are to count 50 days” (Leviticus 23:15-16). The 16th century mystics transformed this agricultural ritual into a daily mindfulness practice of refining the self in preparation for the receiving of Torah, commemorated on the festival of Shavu’ot, seven weeks plus one day after the second night of Passover. Each day of the practice is an opportunity to examine the intersection of two qualities of the seven “lower” emanations of the kabbalistic Tree of Life, to make an inner repair (tikkun).

I carry the bags of khametz
in from the garage—
gluten-free pasta,
flour, sugar, agave nectar,
fruit juice, wine,
organic chicken broth,
pad thai noodles,
cider vinegar, and cooking oil spray.
I empty them
into kitchen cabinets,
determined to fill
each empty bag
with clothing I no longer wear,
shoes that will never be comfortable,
jackets perfect for
the ski trip I
will never take,
socks, T-shirts, three
sweat shirts emblazoned:
“Academy for Jewish Religion,”
pink leggings. The
filled bags sit
in the hallway
waiting to be loaded
into the back
of my Corolla wagon
and ferried to
the Goodwill store
on San Pablo Avenue.
I’ve finally released
that corporate gray
and black-striped wool
suit and the
black wool and
leather jacket I
bought at the
Burlington Coat Factory
in St. Louis Park,
Minnesota, and wore
on my second
trip to Hungary
in 1996, then
shlepped from Minneapolis
to San Diego
to the Bay Area—
four moves, sixteen years—
but barely wore again,
a souvenir of more
carefree traveling days.
The khametz bags,
neatly packed with
remnants of my life,
will flow now into other lives,
bringing warmth, I hope,
and comfort—
the brightness of
a new old thing,
of anonymous kindness,
of an unexpected gift.

Khesed sheh’big’vurah
Boundless lovingkindness within
strength/limitation (the day after Pesach