“Three turns of a Chassidic Microscope” by Yehoshua November

Bill Smith

Three turns of a Chassidic Microscope

1) Solid, tangible world. 2) World as mere
surface, overlay atop Divine speech.
3) World entirely erased,
Ein Sof light flooding the finite
shoebox of existence. Three turns
of a Chassidic microscope.
Or, perhaps, more like the optometrist’s chart
seen through three lenses:
Can you read the last line for me? Discern the edges
of objects? And now? Do you see the world
as anything more than a translucent sheet lifted
by Divine breath? And how about now?
No world whatsoever, only light?
And then a fourth lens.
The Chassidic masters call it Atzmus
or Essence. Solid world remains but,
simultaneously, Ein Sof light all that exists.
And how about now?
Do you see the impossible paradox?


IMG_3844Yehoshua November is the author of two poetry collections, God’s Optimism (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry and winner of the MSR Poetry Book Award) and Two Worlds Exist (a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize). His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review and on National Public Radio. He is also the winner of Prairie Schooner’s Bernice Slote Award and the London School of Jewish Studies Poetry Competition. November teaches writing at Rutgers University and Touro College.