This essay appeared in our 2010 Print Issue 13. The entire issue is available for download in Kindle format.
It begins in the beginning, when, after you have been pulled from the darkness of the blood-water, you understand with your tongue, and with your fingers.
And then, one day, you see: there is a line dividing the dark from the light, there is morning and there is night, and there is a horizon, dividing the sky from the seas.
And then, in time, you emerge again, as dry land splits the ocean, and, like the earth, you stand, while the waves rage, break, and fall at your feet.
And if you live well, you begin to flourish and flower, extending cool shade to your friends, and offering them sweet fruits.
And, if you live well, you make your way in the world, and around the world. You begin to shine like the heavens, revolving around the earth, as your well-ordered soul reflects the sky on a still and lucid night.
And if you live right, the heavenly order in your soul, unchanging, will sag, for God is also not in heaven, and you will grow bitter, sick of the never-ending harmony of the spheres, and your bitterness will then be holy.
You will shatter the order you discovered, in your soul, and you will create new worlds, and destroy them, as you become nothing, the life-force of an extended improvisation flowing through you.
You will curl about the trees, the broad-shouldered trees, and you will tell them, “Yes, you are majestic, but you always remain in one place, regal trees,” and you’ll keep on moving.
You will look up at the sun, the moon, and the stars and you will tell them, “Yes, we see you revolving in your smooth circuits, but even fish and birds can change direction,” and you’ll keep on moving.
You will stand on the beach, where the sky, the sea and the earth meet, and casting a branch into the ocean, your pet, shaggy-wet, will leap into the waves, and when he returns to you, you will tickle his jowls and tell him, “You are such a dog!”
But you will stand upright, breathing in the salt-water air, upright, and slowly turning to take in the fullness of the sea, the sky, and the earth, you will hear the rhythm of creation beating in your heart, coursing through your veins, and driving you on to reveal more and more of the God-given freedom of your soul.
This is how it sounds when we get Genesis into our blood and bones. This is what it looks like when we take the Bible, and fly with it.
ARYEH TEPPER is a writer, teacher and scholar who teaches at Ben Gurion University, Sede Boqer, and the Schechter Institute, and is the Director of Publications for the American Sephardi Federation where he edits a bi-yearly magazine, The Sephardi Report. Aryeh is the Academic Director of the Glazer-Ben Gurion University Israel Studies Seminar for Chinese students in Israel, and serves as Academic Advisor to SIGNAL. His book Progressive Minds, Conservative Politics: Leo Strauss’s Later Writings on Maimonides was released in 2014. Aryeh’s articles and essays have appeared in English and Hebrew in the Jewish Review of Books, The Literary Review, Jewish Ideas Daily, Tiferet, Forward, The Madison Review, The Jerusalem Post, Akdamot and Makor Rishon.
This is a small representation of the high-quality writings you’ll find in every issue of TIFERET.
We receive no outside funding and rely on digital issues, workshop fees, and donations to publish. If you enjoy our journal’s verbal and visual offerings, we hope you’ll consider supporting us in one of these ways.Click Here to Purchase Digital Issues