top of page

"Exile for the
Sake of Redemption"
"Three Turns of a
Chassidic Microscope"

Yehoshua November

Inner Life of a Golem by Judith Joseph

Exile for the Sake of Redemption


The way a teacher, standing at the blackboard,

chalk in hand,

suddenly withdraws into himself

to follow the comet tail

of a thought

more profound than he has ever known,

then, after a long pause,

opens his eyes and returns

to the world

of his classroom

to share his discovery

with his students

is the way, the mystics say,

God, seemingly, recedes

back into Himself

until, suddenly, after many years,

redemption comes,

and a Divine light--

more radiant than the world

has ever known--

illuminates the universe

that thought it had been forsaken.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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? 

"Exile" first published on

"Three Turns" first published in Another Chicago Magazine

Yehoshua Novemeber

YEHOSHUA NOVEMBER is the author of the poetry collections God’s Optimism (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) and Two Worlds Exist (a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and Paterson Poetry Prize).  His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Sun, VQR, and on National Public Radio and On Being's Poetry Unbound series.  

bottom of page