© Michael Alan Ross 2004-2015. All rights
Bicycling from Bedford to Lexington Green,
During a Friday respite from the rain-machine,
I paused to sip water at Chabad’s corner repose,
where stood a bearded fellow in casual clothes.
After we substituted a nod for hello,
I drank from my bottle, cooling H2O,
In the moments I sipped, hesitating to go,
He faced me head-on, and said, “You know?”
“It’s not known whether Torah comes from God,
whom is its source or its rod?
Did humans compile some folk tradition?
Draw from our own well, erudition?”
Did I hear him correctly? I asked myself.
As he spoke again to his audience of one:
“Does it really matter from whom the words of Torah come?
For a student, aren’t its teachings, what are to be won?”
My hesitation to remount my bike seemed to encourage him.
“Aren’t our tales as instructive as sociology and psychology?
Aren’t the stories of the Jewish people as powerful as Greek mythology?”
Fleetingly, I imagined blue Jews with Torahs marching on a white-glazed bowl rim.
I nodded yes, as he looked skyward, toward a thickening black cloud.
“Morality, democracy, and justice, aren’t those issues about which Torah speaks loud?”
He raised his arms, like he was a prophet on a soapbox.
“Torah is our tool for finding flowers among rocks!”
He turned once more to me.
“If there is a force behind the universe door, God it may be.”
He now smiled, returning from possible heresy,
“Torah’s teachings are my key.”
With that said, he shook my hand, and walked away,
Leaving me wondering, was it a Spinoza who blessed my last day of May?
Astounded and awed, I mounted and peddled with home in sight,
To celebrate Shabbat’s arrival that coming night.
1. Chabad (Hebrew acronym for wisdom, understanding, & knowledge) is a Jewish movement with local synagogues.
2. Spinoza was a 17th century, Jewish philosopher.