by Neil Spirtas
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.
It is our responsibility, as writers, to profess to be 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.
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.
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
Venomous Stargazer fish of the sea,
if not handled most carefully,
she will sting her poison and
spritz her spray.
For her luscious taste belies
the dangers that linger deep below
on the ocean’s floor.
This tree of knowledge with her fruit bearing gifts.
The kind of fruit
that granted free will,
choice, and achrayut.
Doors open and close for both fish and fruit.
Guardedly watch your touch,
cautiously watch what you eat.
Shema – Hear me, oh Israel when Moses declared
to meditate aloud, to focus.
When heedfully G-d said, touch the rock to bring forth water.
Listen meticulously to the words, to the trees,
to the Heaven-sent stars
of our forefathers, or
be stung by the Stargazers.
“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
It is me conversing, wrestling in the universe
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.