For Sandi Cohen, who asks difficult questions We ask What is the mask you wear? What is the mask I wear, What is the mask we show , Only each to herself. The scholar said, We never show our face To another Only some mask We hide behind illusions Another scholar quips We do not even show Our faces to ourselves Self-deception Inner masks and outer.

I contemplate What is my mask What is this face I show The world My friends Myself

I ask Are we all really so dishonest To each other To our friends To ourselves?

Consider the gem Shining in the light We see One facet One face Is the gem deceiving us? It is true We do not see the whole gem Only this facet Or that But surely it is truly the gem we see Merely not all of it.

Within our skins Resides A parliament of persons We are never just one thing One person As the gem, we bring forth our different facets Our different faces We are always both/and How impoverished to be merely either/or

The mystics With their tree of aspects Are just as anthropomorphizing As the rest of us poor idol builders. We are all Aaron Pouring gold into the flames of our need The calf just comes out Or Whatever graven image satisfies

In naming our limitations Of understanding Understanding The Holy “We can only see aspects, Never The Whole Of The Holy” We rehearse a description of the sephirot of our souls Recapitulating the structure of ourselves As the Image of The Most High We put forth our constellations of self In partsufim of presence A dance of our inner aspects As the face we present Present to the world To ourselves To Our G-D

Some will say As our scholar above We are liars Because we only present parts Aspects of our selves But we show who we really are Who can encompass a whole Even of the least of things

Some will insist that we must We must peel back the layers The layers of our presentation of self Remove mask After mask After mask As if The masks were not also Truly ourself But we find, As when we peel an onion In the end When Layer After layer Is removed All that is left Is No Thing A bit of that which is Which is Without end Ein Sof The spark of The Infinte The heart of the Image From which We form Our image And from Our image To our idols. So, perhaps, We do not sin too greatly Standing before the creative fire Wielding the hammers of our longing and desire

And when we face another With the face we are wearing What choices do we have? Shall we not seek To put forward the face The face of our best self? Do we not wish to smile kindness To gesture compassion It is not a mask It is not a lie It is who we are It is the voice From the chorus of self That we want to lead That we want to set Set the melody, Call the rhythm Choose the harmony.

When we see another’s face And there are blemishes Recognize the pain That puts that face forward Put on a gentle mask Just because a gem’s flaw Can be seen through one facet Does not diminish its Unique and infinite worth.

So we ask What is your mask? What is my mask? And I answer We each show our face But we each have many faces Each a part of the whole We strive to put on a good face Not to deceive But because we seek to be good.

We cannot encompass in understanding A grain of sand A breath of air A glimmer of light How then A human soul Including Each of us Our own How then Shall we see Let alone Understand The Breath of Creation.

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