In Memoriam

CHADASHOT (News)

I.

I open the Siddur instead of the newspaper.
There, it's the same news every day: God
is still King of the world — the Holy One
continues to redeem His people from Egypt,
still performs miracles, rescues and redeems
the poor, the hungry, the orphan and the widow.

God still begs human beings to come close to Him,
to receive His bounty, to straighten out their lives,
to heed the words of the prophets. In the Siddur,
the world is in fact renewed each day; creation
smiles like a new-born recognizing her mother and father.
The new-born world does not know of yesterday's
crimes.

In the Siddur, men and women struggle
against their evil nature; they strive
to overcome their greed and lust, to manage
their drives, to harness them to God's will,
and direct their nature to saving enterprises.
"Aynei khol aylekha y'sabayru —
All beings gaze at You with hope..."

II.

In the news, a mother and her daughter
are killed by a terrorist, who also kills
a soldier and is later killed himself.
Two other terrorists are caught at a checkpoint
with a bomb in their car; another terrorist,
riding on a bus and wearing a belt

packed with explosives, is grabbed
by border police and subdued
before he has a chance to detonate
his charge. In response to these attacks and threats,
jets pound an empty police station
in Nablus — the ancient Shechem,

and later the Greek Neapolis.
Ancient blood feuds still scourge the land.
Yet the budget has been passed, Sharon
has flown to Washington to meet with Bush,
the weather is unseasonably warm,"
" — v'atah notayn lahem et akhlam b'eeto.
…and You give them their food at its proper time."

Tzfat
25 Sh'vat, 5762
February 7, 2002

SITTING DOWN AT MY COMPUTER ON MOTZAEI SHABBAT

— Parashat VaYishlach —

Icons on my desktop look like tombstones
as I back away from more stories
about the latest Jerusalem bus bombing.

My townspeople go about their tasks
with fallen faces, still absorbing
the details of Thursday morning's massacre.

Despite our charitable deeds,
the grim reality is that murderers,
paid assassins, surface in our midst,

commit their crimes and flee — or are killed —
and, if dead, are feted like celebrities,
if alive, are free to plot and murder again.

The atmosphere is steeped in sadness,
broken only by our festive Shabbos joy,
our yearning prayers, plangent melodies,

children's high, harmonious voices,
table talk and courting interludes —
innocent dreams of better days —

and perennial Torah tales, their hidden nuances
revealed in the glare of the headlines:
Jacob, alone, wrestling with — a man —

becoming Israel, buying land,
journeying again to build an altar,
and keep his promise to the God who rescued him.

19 Kislev, 5763/November 24, 2002/Tzfat

Copyright Reuven Goldfarb