a poem by Abby Caplin, for Women of the Wall
The five daughters of Tzelofhad,
Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, Tirtzah
Strong Bible women, sisters,
Stood together, sand between toes,
Toe to toe with their male elders,
Just in sight of the Promised Land.
Our father died and left no sons.
Give us our inheritance! they insisted.
Moses, confused, did not know what to do,
Except to simply ask
God, who said,
The plea is just!
Give them their share.
And it was made so.
In the Torah, it is written.
Now the great great-granddaughters of centuries of
Daughters of Tzelofhad, grown women with daughters,
And granddaughters of their own
Stand before the stones of
The Western Wall, what remains of the great Temple.
These are Women of the Wall.
They tender prayers to God
And plead their case.
Give us our share, our place before the Wall,
To pray freely, as full Jews,
This is our inheritance!
But those who rule do not ask God what is just,
Will not think to listen for
God’s answer, instead
Allow the pitch of chairs,
Prayer books ripped from mothers’ hands,
Allow the din of curses raining down
Upon the daughters of the hot desert sands.
(Abby Caplin, copyright 2010)