Keep Shekels In Your Pocket – A Poem for Haftarah Mishpatim

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Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.

Can you imagine? I ask my wife
if our nine-year-old were suddenly
in charge of everything?

Like Johoash who was
only seven when he was given
all of Israel to rule.

I can’t imagine ours is up to
the job of keeping the sink clean
let alone the whole house

and certainly not the neighborhood
or the city at large, or any of the
other names we give to the

areas of land that are separate
from others because of borders
we created.

Every adult human who
has ever drawn a line on a map
used to be nine or seven.

I guess eventually we
all get there, especially if we’re
born into the job.

Poor Jehoash, who wasn’t poor at all,
but still managed to lose his childhood
to our kingdom

Who told everyone to
keep an extra half shekel on hand
because once a year

that half shekel was going to
leave your hand, to make room for
another and gather with

all the other half shekels
to fix the walls, and keep the
sinks clean.

I tell our nine year old to
keep change in his pockets
because you never know.