Why Is 12

the number of months
& also is the number of sons of Jacob
& the number of tribes they raised?

Even after civil wars
and a divided kingdom
and 10 of those tribes swept away
we still have 12 months.

Everything can change
but time will not.
The river runs into the sea to disappear
but the sun and the moon
and the night and day
return and return.

Everything can change
but not family,
which is
always is

or ought to be.
Jacob’s sons hated,
were cruel,
departed/were cast down/ stolen to different places,
sired 12 tribes steeped in war.
But it should not have been this way.

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Say that 12 is
because we need a reminder
& a question:

Even if we have come apart
or become mired in cruelty—
can we know we still frame one another,
surround each other’s years & days
like a living time?


Note: References to Kohelet inspired by the reading presented in אני קהלת: מקהלת קולות בדמות אחת by Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun and Rabbi Yaakov Medan