Not white

Yom Kippur’s robes are the color of light that has never fractured. Unadulturated, all-encompassing, streaming, shining white. Yom Kippur wears the white of the sun, of angels and the holiest consecrated secrets. Watching it too long is to risk earthly blindness, to willingly wither away.

There are millions of colors in Shabbat’s coat—a rainbow in every fold. Yellow-brown, ruby-black, rust-gold, cream-peach and more blues than there are permutations in the sea.

Shabbat does not wear Yom Kippur white, though. Every thread in Shabbat’s coat is a remnant of shattered perfection—a soothing multi-faced retelling of the cornea-burning whiteness.

Yom Kippur is draped in purity. Shabbat’s sleeves are lined with loam-brown and blood-red, edged with silver-embroidered teardrops.

I wear Shabbat’s coat because it matches the world I walk through. It looks like peace and restlessness, compassion and gloating, spring, autumn and dawn. It is cut to human size.


Combat nurse

The siege ended two days ago. Now is a time of respite and negotiation. The battered and injured are still, gathering their strength in this quiet time between battles.

I see Shabbat approaching, but she is no longer my well-heeled, festive beloved. She has laid aside her glittering gown for a plain white smock, tucked her hair under a kerchief and scrubbed her face clear of makeup. She pauses beside each soul, offering rest and comfort to those who quake at the prospect of the coming struggle. Her feet slap softly against the rough floor as she approaches me.

“Take courage,” she whispers, lifting medicinal wine of my lips. As she presses a crust of bread to my palm, her smile offers a promise of sweet times yet to come. She moves to her next patient, and I realize that she has never been more beautiful.