- The Lover
Who else would have thought to giggle as we navigated the slippery, sparkly floor of the canyon cut through the sea, while the rest of us were filled with fear and wonder? That was how I found her in the crush of Levites churning through a moonlight-streaked tunnel. Eleven other tribes skidded through tunnels of their own, meeting at liquid intersections amid wet clusters of sheep. There she was, my fearless Miriam, testing the fizzing sides of our God-made labyrinth with an elegant, playful finger, wanting to know if it made a noise. As I came up behind her she slipped and fell in a heap of skirts and lapping wavelets. Afraid she would be trampled by the frantically rushing Israelites, I picked her up in my arms and carried her to the next intersection. I could feel the joy leaping in her body. The tribes flowed past us, green and silver and white robes mingling. I set Miriam on my shoulders, and she craned her neck to look for Moses, somewhere at the head of the crowd, not far from the glassy bridge onto the sand. We were both laughing by then. Something was deliciously funny and wonderful, something fuller than Miriam's dark eyes and warmer than her feet clasped in my hands. I did not know what it was, but then Miriam began to sing, and suddenly I did.
Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the director of Tel Shemesh, a website and community celebrating Jewish traditions connected with the earth (www.telshemesh.org). She is the author of two books: The Jewish Book of Days (Jewish Publication Society, 2006) and Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (Jewish Publication Society, 2001). Her poems and essays have been published in many journals and anthologies. Rabbi Hammer is a celebrated adult educator, midrashist, and ritualist. She is currently serving as an instructor at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale, NY. She resides in Manhattan.