by Yakov Azriel
Haikus of Light
"He shall arrange the candles in the pure candlestick before the Lord [to burn] continuously." (Leviticus 24:4)
Closer, yet closer,
Pull us closer to Your name,
Closer to its height.
We grope in darkness
And stumble in the blackness,
Surrounded by night.
The letters of Your name shine,
Distant, star-like, bright.
Yet we sense their blaze,
Their glowing sparks above us,
Their power, their might.
Teach us how to read;
Our lips will call out Your name,
Our fingers will write.
Despite our mistakes
And the shadows of our deeds,
Enhance now our sight.
Despite our blindness
And our stubborn, closed eyelids,
Let us see Your light.
The wonder of Yakov Azriel’s Torah-inspired poetry continues with Beads for the Messiah’s Bride: Poems on Leviticus. Once again, formal mastery combines with depth of learning and soul-searching to produce a work that wrestles uncompromisingly with the demands of the Torah, the questions of an individual life, and the challenges of contemporary Jewish history. Many individual poems are unforgettably poignant, and the reader has throughout a sense of existential engagement with a sacred text.
— Esther Cameron, author of Rim of Gold and editor of The Deronda Review
Azriel captures the ebb and flow of life here, both ancient and modern. He skillfully weaves in ways we can all understand the interconnected branches of God's chosen people, and shines a gentle light on the Shadow of the Messiah. Whether you are Christian, Jew, curious about ancient life, or simply a poetry lover, this book is highly recommended.
— Midwest Book Review
Yakov Azriel has undertaken an exceptionally ambitious and difficult project: to write a series of books of poems based on the books of the Torah. His third volume in this series, Beads for the Messiah’s Bride: Poems on Leviticus, was perhaps the most challenging, as readers tend to view Leviticus as a rather dry compilation of laws. But Azriel has managed to mine this difficult text and return with an inspired series of poems that disprove, once and for all, the assumption that the well of Leviticus is dry. I would heartily recommend reading this fine book of poems before reading Leviticus, as a way of realizing that this least appreciated of Biblical books is, in fact full, of mystery and meaning.
— Howard Schwartz, author of Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism
This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.