Poetry

Two poems on God and the World

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Yehoshua November

On the World’s Continuity Via Divine Speech

God is like a celebrity 
making small talk 
at a dinner party.
Everyone hangs on His words,
and if He were to stop speaking, 
the evening would end. 


Notes on the
Tzimtzum

1.
Once, on a bus from Jerusalem to Ein Gedi, 
I saw a man place his hand 
over his bare head 
and recite the blessing 
over water. 

2.
One can’t use his hand 
as a head covering, 
the Rabbis conclude, 
because one can’t cover 
oneself with oneself. 

3.
Since the Divine hand hides 
that everything stems out of the Divine,
when God looks at the world,
He sees only Divinity. 

4.
The Jew without a yarmulke 
placed the cap 
on his water bottle
and resumed watching a YouTube video
on black holes. 

5.
To cover an object, 
a blanket’s diameter 
must run larger 
than the object itself. 

6.
In this world, Hashem hides
His omnipresence, His Infinite Light. 

7.
In this world, 
we ride buses through a Divine concealment  
whose diameter is greater 
than infinity, 
we sip water 
beside a dam 
that holds back 
endless light. 

Yehoshua November is the author of God’s Optimism (a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize) and Two Worlds Exist (a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize). His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Sun, VQR, and on National Public Radio and Poetry Unbound. November teaches writing at Rutgers University and Touro University.