One for the Haters – A poem for Parsha Ki Teitzei (Aliyah 4)

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You shall not despise an Edomite, for he is your brother.
 You shall not despise an Egyptian, for you were a sojourner in his land.

Deuteronomy 23:8

I once heard the words hate is such a strong word
pass through someone’s lips. Outside of references
to mayonnaise, I tend to agree.

I wish I remembered who said it.
This common sense wisdom has haunted
my sensibilities since I first had memory.

Perhaps they were responding to me
having said I hated someone or something?
Once a rabbi gave a tour of burned Torah scrolls

to the individual who had done the burning.
The man asked for forgiveness and the Rabbi said
we can forgive, but we can’t forget.

I saw the whole thing on TV.
Every human is human, despite the things they’ve done.
Every human had a mother and father.

Every human takes full advantage of
the available oxygen supply.
Despite the lines we’ve drawn on the ground

to indicate what’s mine is mine and
what’s yours is yours, we all have a vested interest
in keeping the rivers flowing.

At least as long as we still have rivers.
At least as long as food travels from
farmers to plates. At least as long as

it takes a certain number of years
before children learn any words
let alone the one hate.

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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