With, or: Without them

I want to want repentance
I want to want God
I want to want to pray at all
But that is all I've got

A Jew can just excuse himself
A Jew can disbelieve
A Jew can just participate
To find some small relief

Ours is not a religion
Ours is not merely faith
Ours is not in our hearts or minds
It's in our DNA

I'm there because they draw me there
I'm there because of them
I'm there because of smiles and hugs
Where I don't feel condemned

Sometimes I recite all the words
Sometimes I do as they
Sometimes I feel that God has heard
For that is what they say

Community grants me peoplehood
Community grants excuse
Community grants permission
To pray to "You Know Who"

Believe I not in Yom Kippur
Believe not in the least
Believe absent community -
- I'm barely sorry beast

33 thoughts on “With, or: Without them”

  1. ื”ื”ืจื™ื
    ื”ื ืคืฉ
    ืจื—ื•ืง ื•ืจื—ื‘

    ื–ื” ืงืฉื”
    ื‘ื ื”ืจ
    ืฉืœ ื”ื’ืœื™ื
    ืคื ื™ื• ืฉืœื•
    ื›ื“ื™ ืœืžืฆื•ื

    ืžืชื—ืช ืœื’ื’
    ื”ืื ื–ื” ืงืœ

    ืœื ืืช ื—ืžืชื• ืฉืœ ืืœื•ื”ื™ื
    ื›ืื“ื ื—ืœืฉ
    ืขื ืขื™ืจื•ื
    ืืœื•ื”ื™ื ืขืฆืžื•
    ืืคื™ืœื• ื‘ื‘ื•ืฉืช ืคื ื™ื ืฉืœื•

  2. Hi Ben! I really liked it. I had to read it a few times and have to admit the feeling I get is a feeling of sadness. Is it about a superficial relationship but you wanting more?

    1. Yes and no, Shannie.

      I envy people who feel that they have a relationship with God (whatever that may mean to them) because that would be very comforting – I think it’s a human condition to desire a sense of logic and stability and purpose in this crazy world, and believing in God gives some people that sense of reality.

      However, I don’t actually believe that any existing supernatural force cares about us in the slightest bit – so I don’t aspire to a relationship with a Being who is unrelatable.

      That said, I very much love my people – the Jews – and I believe that our traditions hold us together and have preserved us as a people for many centuries… so I do follow a lot of traditions that others believe were commanded to us by God (regardless of whether I think that’s true, which I don’t).

      BUT – I don’t follow all of the traditions because there are many that I don’t get anything out of – and some that irritate me greatly. If I believed in a God who commanded these things for a sensible reason, it would be easier for me follow these traditions, which would be nice… but -again- I don’t aspire to that because I don’t think that there is any truth in it.

        1. Well, first of all, I don’t believe that any human being can know what the purposes of Creation is. So – no – I would not say that keeping tradition is our purpose. I would say that it is on each of us to make his/her own purpose in this world.

          Also, regarding tradition in particular, I find it very meaningful in the grand scheme of things. For me personally, it does feel like part of my personal purpose because I perceive the Jewish people to be my extended family, and family lends tremendous purpose to my life – so I am invested in preserving mine.

          Not to mention that most of the traditions that I consistently observe are enjoyable and/or meaningful to me on a tradition-to-tradition basis, regardless of whether God has anything to do with them.

          1. Interesting. To understand what you are saying better though, it is your family whom you love and express love through the traditions you share. Is this love not a spiritual experience?

          2. From my perspective, I understand love to be God and when we love we experience love, which is our human experience with one another. When we love God as we learn and know who He is, we start to experience His love too. He is so very gentle that He is just waiting for us to recognize Him.

          3. That’s a nice way to look at it. Personally, I don’t find any reason for myself to use the word “God” to describe love, but I would agree with you that love is something that generally falls under the category of “spiritual”, as you put it in your previous comment.

    1. Thanks; that’s very sweet of you. I have not yet decided whether or not I want to participate in the WP “award culture”, but if do – I’ll let you know! Regardless, I very much appreciate your support!

  3. I love this… thanks for liking my comment on Yassy’s last post, which helped me find your blog… lovely. :)) ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ™

    1. Thanks! I consider Yassy a much more serious poet than I am. Until several months ago, when I created this blog, I hadn’t written poetry in nearly 2 decades ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Your first stanza really resonates with me. The want to want repentance, the want to want a meaningful prayer experience, the want to want a closer connection with G-d…I want to say that I want this, but if I am honest with myself, it is more of a want to want.

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