“Do Not Become like a Willow”

Bamboo rings for binding willow and myrtle branches to a lulav.
Made by Beth Ben-Avraham.

The first day of Sukkos has ended here, in the Land of Israel [Monday, October 10, 2022.] Thanks so much to Sarah Law, Editor-in-chief at Amethyst Review, for publishing my poem, “The Feast of Booths.”

It begins:

Lost in a worry of wilted willows,
he sat, perched on the edge of a park bench,
leaning forward, hands crossed, lying lightly
upon the curved polished head of his cane.

Gershon Ben-avraham, “Lost in a Worry of Willows, Amethyst Review

Sukkos, a seven-day festival, is my favorite holiday. The first day is observed in Israel as a whole festival; the first two days are kept as full festival days in the Diaspora. The laws are similar to the Sabbath with two notable exceptions, carrying things outside the home and food preparation. We recite special prayers and enjoy festive meals in our Sukkah, a booth we build. Ours is in our backyard.

I enjoy the holiday’s physicality and sensuality if you will. We eat all our meals in our Sukkah, read, and study there. Some sleep in their Sukkah. I follow Chabad customs, and it is not Chabad’s custom to sleep in the Sukkah.

Part of the sensuality of the holiday is tied to the use of the Four Species: an esrog (citron), palm, myrtle, and willow. Every year, I worry about my willow branches. Will they last until the end of the holiday? What if they don’t? The man in my poem shares his worry with us and his memory of what he learned from a teacher many years ago.

Willow and myrtle branches bound to a lulav. Esrog in silver box.

All the best,

Author: Gershon Ben-Avraham

Gershon Ben-Avraham is an American-Israeli writer. He lives in Beersheba, Israel, on the edge of the Negev Desert. He and his wife share their lives with a gentle blue-merle long-haired collie. Ben-Avraham earned an MA in Philosophy (Aesthetics) from Temple University. His short story, “Yoineh Bodek,” (Image) received “Special Mention” in the Pushcart Prize XLlV: Best of the Small Presses 2020 Edition. Kelsay Books published his chapbook “God’s Memory” in 2021. חב"ד‎

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