Parasha Poetry: Vayishlach

I cross the river
And find myself entwined in limb and sinew,
breath and sigh, 
Wrestling with the presence of one
    whose name I do not know.

When the dawn shoots through
like arrows I finally have him
in my grasp, his head bathed in the dew of the night. 

Who are you? Who are you?
Tell me your name.
The name that is unknowable.
The name that you call yourself 
    in your dreams.

My voice knocks at the door:
Let me swim in your depths
    and call me blessed.

I too have gazed into the face of the divine
and lived.

This week’s Torah reading is from Parashat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:43. It contains the famous story of Jacob wrestling with an unidentified figure at night, which served as inspiration for this poem. How much can we truly know the other? What does it mean to encounter the divine presence? What is the nature of intimacy? I also draw on imagery from Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, in this exploration. You can check out the texts that inspired this poem on Sefaria.