The 613 Mitzvot and Other Safeguards Against Our Baser Instincts


I’d summarize them here but the truth is they do drone on,
written by the rabbis in the time before Instagram made incursions
into our attention spans and hardened us to horror, in the time

before a single finger like Michelangelo’s old man reaching out to Adam
could summon real-time butchery, anguish upon unbearable anguish,
until we are numb and dedicated only to the continual scroll,

as I imagine a scroll inscribed with 613 mitzvot should be—continual,
expanding each time we invent a new form of wickedness,
a torture technique or revenge tactic—the list of mitzvot, good deeds

to redeem our tarnished souls, updating instantly, adapting in this age
of gratification with a rattle like the sages rolling in their graves, scrolling
through our sins, fossilized prayers flossed between their teeth, phalanges

outstretched as if they have some chance of connecting to our wavelength
from the dusty pages of the dead commandments. As if they have some hope
that words alone, small spiked trees with gnarled roots of ancient letters,

could ever bear fruit to save us.

Lisa Rosinsky