Firsts – A poem for Parsha Breisheit (Aliyah 5)

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And his brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all who grasp a lyre and a flute.

Genesis 4:21

Fresh out of the garden and our first children
who never knew what it’s like to be without
clothes are doing the firsts of everything.

Jubal takes up the lyre and the flute and
becomes the precursor for any of us who
hold up our guitars in front of the people

to lead them, spiritually, from one place
to the other. Forget about the fact that
Judaism, technically, hasn’t been invented yet.

We’re on a roll, coming up with names for things
The first people to have tents…the first people
to have cows…The first people to sharpen tools.

It’s not a race, this life…your end goal should
not be the end. (This is the secret to immortality,
by the way.) But acknowledging our firsts…

where we came from, and why we do what we do
the way we do it (or why we sometimes stray
from that path with appropriate reverence)

is the stuff civilizations are based on.
The next time I pick up my guitar to sing
the oldest or newest melody, it’s for Jubal.

If it weren’t for him, I might never have gone
back to summer camp, and who knows
what I’d be doing with my fingers?

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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