שְׁמוֹת / shemos / shemot / Exodus 27:20-30:10
Ketores smoking in a pan, carried in his hand,
Fiercely proud of his own job to help bnei Yisrael;
In his shining uniform, he’d surely never fail.
He had pants and a shirt and a hat and a coat,
A belt and a choshen, tied by his throat;
All dressed up to the highest degree,
The kohen gadol – a sight to see!
But once a year he’d go in to a very sacred spot;
Did he wear his golden uniform? He certainly did not!
Humble clothes of linen on Yom Kippur that he wore,
Golden clothes removed in a change room right before.
Why was that? Why indeed? What reason, you may seek?
We haven’t heard yet, but we’ll all read of it next week.
Our Moshe will ascend, way up Har Sinai at long last,
Forty days, forty nights: you’d think they’d go by fast.
Bnei Yisrael grew impatient: “He isn’t coming back!
“Let’s make a brand-new leader to help fill in our lack!”
So they grabbed all their jewels, their most precious gold,
Built a small cow to lead them, or so we’ve been told.
When Moshe came down and saw what they’d done,
He burned with a wrath that was fierce like the sun!
Smashed the luchos down into small smithereens,
But he knew he must save them with all of his means.
“Please, Hashem,” Moshe begged, “forgive what they did.”
“Have pity on them, just like they’re your kid.”
Hashem did forgive them, for His mercy’s so great,
Bnei Yisrael avoided their terrible fate.
And to show they remembered that message so clear,
When the kohein went in to the kodesh each year,
He never wore riches, showed off golden gleam,
As if they’d forgotten – or so it would seem.
Our gold and our finery all has its place,
But not when meeting Hashem face to face;
Before Him we’re humble, meek and alone,
For all of our weaknesses will be made known.
We throw off our finery, puffed-up and shiny –
And say to Him, “Save me, although I am tiny.
I know I need help to do right all my days;
Please help me to follow and walk in Your ways.”
(image By illustrators of the 1890 Holman Bible [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)