Forget, for a moment

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Teach me the whole Torah whilst standing on one foot.

“What is hateful unto you, do not do unto others.
The rest is commentary – now go and study.”
–Hillel

 

Forget, for a moment,
the pressure of loving
others as you do yourself.

No matter what an old friend says,
or what even the newest enemies persist
in pretending,

loving oneself is too often
too much to ask of anyone.

While I hate to say it,
hate even to think it,
perhaps we must begin with

what is hateful;
maybe we must first imagine
what it is those others

might suffer,
if only in advance to recognize,
and then resist,
even the correct commentary
that may whet that ache.

This study is not pointless.
This emotion is not wasted.
And this is no call for the wearying
gymnastics of regret.

Rather, this is the liturgy of concern:
the mother of sympathy,
forgiveness,
trust,
and, of all things,
love.

This is the oasis of your company.

And, I suspect,
this is how
you have always been
so very kind to me.

[for Kathrine Petric…and my brother, Ben]

 

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