I Will Betroth You

Veh-ay-rahs-teekh li l’olam,
“I will betroth you to me forever,”
veh-ay-rahs-teekh li b’tzedek, oo’b’mishpat, oo’b’khesed, oo’b’rakhameem
“I will betroth you with righteousness, justice,
and in kindness and in compassion,”
veh-ay-rahs-teekh li b’emunah,
“I will betroth you with fidelity.”[0]

I will bind you to my arm and my head,
turned inward, with my heart and my mind,
you are leather straps wrapped seven times around my forearm,
ancient promises writ scripture on my forehead,
prayers made meaningful and relevant as they slide from my tongue,
you are the salvation promised on Har Seenai [1].

Zoog [2], I gave you my heart before I made the promise in that parking lot
when you asked me where we were headed and I told you my intentions on our first date,
it came down with Mosheh [3] descending from that holy mountain,
stone-clad, supernatural,
reading backward and forward, an eternal covenant,
nah-ah-seh v’nishma! my love, “I will do and I will obey.”

You are the amulet on my doorpost,
the blissful irregularity of honey on my Seder [4]  plate,
the thatches of my sukkah [5],
my rock, my shield, my redeemer.

My love for you is unrepentant –
shofar [6] blowing my love for you over the ancient stones of Yerushalayim [7],
it is aaliyah [8]-
you lift me up, returning to homeland on the wings of an eagle.

The laughter of our children dance in your eyes,
they have a lion’s grace and a mane to match.

Yehudah [9], Tamar [10] has met a match to her beauty,
without deception to capture this heart;
Daveed Melekh Yisrael [11], I understand now your dalliance off the rooftop – my Batsheva [12] bathes unfettered but our love is kept a too-long secret for circumstances that wound us in each others’ arms, our consideration of our accidental shadkhin [13].

But it is a match undoubtedly Ordained before our souls descended – the Dayin Emet [14] never so Merciful as when we were declared for each other on High,
And so I will make you mikudeshet [15] to me when we are betrothed,
in righteousness, in justice, in kindness and compassion.


[0] A phrase recited while applying tefillin, phylacteries, a recitation of the promise of the Numinous to the people of Israel.
[1] Mt. Sinai.
[2] “Soul-mate,” in conjunction with bashert, “destiny.”
[3] Moses.
[4] Plate that holds the elements of the Seder, the traditional meal of Pesakh, Passover.
[5] Thatched hut, where observant Jews take their meals during Sukkot, the Festival of Huts.
[6] Ram’s horn blown during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holy Days. Used in the biblical account of the toppling of the walls of Jericho [Joshua 6:4] and said to signal the coming of Moshiakh, the Messiah.
[7] Jerusalem.
[8] “To be lifted up.” Term used to refer to someone who is called to read from the Torah, the scroll containing the Five Books of Moses, or the act of a Jew moving to Israel.
[9] Judah, son of Jacob.
[10] Wife of the sons of Judah, Er and Onan, who eventually married Judah and bore the progenitor of the Messianic line [Genesis 38].
[11] “David, King of Israel.”
[12] Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite, whom David seduced [2 Samuel 11].
[13] Hebrew term for one who arranges marriages. The Yiddish equivalent, more known vernacularly, is yenta.
[14] “True Judge”, a term assigned to the Numinous, particularly during the High Holy Days.
[15] “Holy”, from the Hebrew marriage phrase, “Haray aht mikudeshet li batabaz zu, k’dat Mosheh v’Yisrael,” “You are made holy to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”


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