Poetica  Publishing  Company


Korban Quest 
by Neil Spirtas

Introduction by the author

Korban Quest is a spiritual, “drawing closer” endeavor. The book navigates between friends, family, a culture and a tradition, the natural world and the spiritual one. The Hebrew word Korban comes originally from the commandments in the Torah for sacrificial offerings. Doing homage in ancient times required great offerings, but after the catastrophic events surrounding the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Jews turned to prayer for atonement (instead of sacrifices) and “to reach out” and draw closer to G-d. Poet Laureate of Volusia County, Florida M.B. McLatchey says, “it takes a good person to be a good poet and she tries to emulate in her work – empathy, authenticity, and self-effacement”. Her mentor Poet Seamus Heaney, and 1995 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, described this goodness as something he strived for; “a positioning in service to the world”. In Judaism, the term to describe Heaney’s “positioning” is referred to as Tikkun Olam. To do good in the world, to strive for “saving the world” by good deeds is an inherent responsibility we all share with one another. Norma L. Goodrich in her Afterword to the book, The Man Who Wanted Trees (by Jean Giono) said that “hopefulness must spring from literature and the profession of poetry”. The poet’s mission “is to remind us of beauty, of trees swaying in the breeze, or pines groaning under snow in the mountain passes, of wild white horses galloping across the surf.” It is our responsibility, as writers, to profess being good and sweet faithfulness - in the magic and mystery of our words. My hope is readers will find your own Korban journey as fruitful and phenomenal as mine.


Back cover reviews

Korban Quest strikes well beyond the body-mind apparatus into the reader's soul. Throughout this eloquent and unabashedly personal mystical journey, Spirtas inspires us to go deep and to seek, find and see the face of God for ourselves. Drawing on ancient Jewish themes, the message of Korban is highly relevant in today's challenging world.


—Charles Marcus

author of My Spinoza


The poet is a wonderful observer in this collection – and yet not a casual observer. This is a collection that takes stock of the spiritual cues available to us in the most ordinary of days. In the title poem for his collection, “My Korban Quest”, Spirtas reports that his watching and observing has turned up for him “No ancient sacrifice/ No binding of Isaac, in view” – but what it has revealed to him is a path to clarity and salvation if we would only say “yes” to it. “Yes, to all who sign on/ Yes, to a subsequent soul, good Karma/ Blanketing all the earth.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti stated, “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” This is a collection that encourages us to look into our hearts, and find the verses inscribed there.

—M.B. McLatchey

author of Beginner’s Mind and The Lame God


Although this collection is specifically Jewish, its themes transcend any particular religious commitment and reach out to those who find themselves on most any spiritual path. Spirtas has a unique ability of bringing age-old Judaic texts, teachings and practices into our modern world and inviting us to find relevancy and meaning in our lives today. Sit back and allow Korban Quest to take your soul on a divine journey.


—Rabbi Tuviah Schreiber


Sample Poems

The Shema: A Watchword Prayer

 “If you pray only according to the precise text in the siddur

and nothing from your heart your prayer is not complete.” - Talmud

At least twice a day one should say -
With all your heart, with all your might,
with all your soul.

 Even in times of peril
under the evil Roman empire,
under the pharaohs and idols before you,

under the doorposts of your house and upon your gate.
Hear, oh descendants of Israel:
Listen, listen, pay attention.

 Focus, focus, people of G-d’s imagination
in crossing the Jordan to the promised land.
There is no way to explain,

 there is only to elevate,
there is but to contemplate,
there is no one else - Ein od, Ein od.

But to love, when we breath in,
when we rise up, and
when we lie down.

My Soul

 “If I am not for myself, who will be for me and if I am only

for myself what am I, and if not now, when?”
                                    – Hillel wisdom

It is my soul awakening,
my soul speaking.
It is my memories,
my soul alive and listening.
It is the rapid fire of
questions and answers,
by an alias of
my own Socratic method.
Rippling through me,
my nefesh in mid-air,
the breath created
out of thin air.
Converging with torrents
of wisdom nearby,
patiently pending with other souls,
breathing on the banks below.
Then evolving into the
Burning Palace.
It is me conversing, wrestling in the universe
with G-d.
It is from dust to discourse with the heavenly bodies.
It is about what I’ve shared and given away,
but it is not all about me.