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Original Poems of Torah and Shabbat

The first poem here emerged from a practice I’ve adopted over the past few years of combining close study of Jewish texts with creative-writing prompts. I was introduced to this sort of work through classes offered by Amy Gottlieb at the Drisha Institute in New York; after those courses ended, a few of us decided to continue meeting on our own. “Birthright” stems from study of Parashat Toldot—which is to be read in 2017/5778 on November 18.


Eyesight dimmed, aged Isaac

could nonetheless discern

the sound of one twin’s voice

from the other’s

and detect the scent

of each from his garments;

alas, how the story

might have shifted

could he have distinguished

Esau’s skin from a goat’s.

For this next poem: I struggle somewhat with my level of Shabbat observance. And I also struggle with my addiction to my iPhone and various social-media platforms. About a year ago, following the rush of online reactions in the aftermath of the presidential election, I began trying to disengage for one day each week: Shabbat. And that’s the impetus for “Sabbath Rest 2.0.” 

Sabbath Rest 2.0

About that Fourth Commandment:

I’ve always remembered the Sabbath day;

I just haven’t kept it holy.

But these days, I do keep it

free from Facebook and Twitter.


And when the sun sinks and sets

and the three stars appear,

I’m renewed and refreshed

and ready, once again,

to face all that awaits.

Erika Dreifus writes poetry and prose in New York. She can be found online at and on Twitter @ErikaDreifus, where she tweets “on matters bookish and/or Jewish.”

Photo by slgckgc, via Flickr.

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