The Foundation has produced a booklet with selected texts from traditional Jewish sources, as well as modern and contemporary writings to provide artists with food for thought on the subject "Rupure and Repair." This booklet is available below free of charge. If you wish to receive a printed version of this booklet, it can be obtained in the offices of the Adi Foundation for N.I.S. 15 (by appointment only), or via mail for N.I.S. 25 by telephone order (02 623-5235).
Rupture and Repair – Sources
All translations of biblical verses are from the Jewish Publication Society Hebrew-English Tanakh 5765-2005
Genesis 5, 29 And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will provide us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the Lord placed under a curse.”
Genesis 24, 67 Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.
Genesis 50, 15-21 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong that we did him.” So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before his death your father left this instruction: So shall you say to Joseph, ‘Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.’ Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him. His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him, and said, “We are prepared to be your slaves.” But Joseph said to them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result – the survival of many people. And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your children.” Thus he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
Exodus 34, 1 The Lord said to Moses: “Carve two tablets of stone like the first, and I will inscribe upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you shattered.
Numbers 35, 11 You shall provide yourselves with places to serve you as cities of refuge to which a manslayer who has killed a person unintentionally may flee.
Deuteronomy 32, 39 See, then, that I, I am He; There is no god beside Me. I deal death and give life; I wounded and I will heal: None can deliver from My hand.
2 Kings 2, 21 He went to the spring and threw salt into it. And he said, “Thus said the Lord: I heal this water; no longer shall death and bereavement come from it!”
2 Kings 20, 5 “Go back and say to Hezekiah, the ruler of My people: Thus said the Lord, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. I am going to heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the House of the Lord.
Isaiah 9, 1 The people that walked in darkness have seen a brilliant light; On those who dwelt in a land of gloom, light has dawned.
Isaiah 30, 26 And the light of the moon shall become like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall become sevenfold, like the light of the seven days, when the Lord binds up His people’s wounds and heals the injuries it has suffered.
Isaiah 35, 10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with shouting to Zion, crowned with joy everlasting. They shall attain joy and gladness, while sorrow and sighing flee.
Isaiah 51, 3 Truly the Lord has comforted Zion, comforted all her ruins; He has made her wilderness like Eden, Her desert like the Garden of the Lord. Gladness and joy shall abide there, Thanksgiving and the sound of music.
Isaiah 52, 9 Raise a shout together, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord will comfort His people, will redeem Jerusalem.
Isaiah 54, 7-8 For a little while I forsook you, But with vast love I will bring you back. In slight anger, for a moment I hid My face from you; but with kindness everlasting I will take you back in love – said the Lord your Redeemer.
Isaiah 57, 18 I note how they fare and will heal them: I will guide them and mete out solace to them, and to the mourners among them.
Isaiah 60, 18 . The cry “Violence!” shall no more be heard in your land, nor “Wrack and ruin!” within your borders. And you shall name your walls “Victory” and your gates “Renown.”
Isaiah 66, 10 - 13 Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her! Join in her jubilation, all you who mourned over her. That you may suck from her breast consolation to the full, that you may draw from her bosom glory to your delight. For thus said the Lord: I will extend to her prosperity like a stream, the wealth of nations like a wadi in flood; and you shall drink of it. You shall be carried on shoulders and dandled upon knees. As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you; you shall find comfort in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 30, 17 But I will bring healing to you and cure you of your wounds – declares the Lord. Though they called you “Outcast, that Zion whom no one seeks out.”
Jeremiah 31, 15 - 17 Thus said the Lord: A cry is heard in Ramah – wailing, bitter weeping – Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone. Thus said the Lord: Restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from shedding tears; For there is a reward for your labor – declares the Lord: They shall return from the enemy’s land. And there is hope for your future – declares the Lord: Your children shall return to their country.
Jeremiah 31, 28 And just as I was watchful over them to uproot and to pull down, to overthrow and to destroy and to bring disaster, so I will be watchful over them, to build and to plant – declares the Lord.
Ezekiel 16, 6 When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you: “Live in spite of your blood,” Yea, I said to you: “Live in spite of your blood.” [later on in the source list see the song by Naomi Shemer, BiDamayich Chayai]
Ezekiel 34, 27 The trees of the field shall yield their fruit and the land shall yield its produce. [My people] shall continue secure on its own soil. They shall know that I am the Lord when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from those who enslave them.
Zechariah 8, 19 Thus said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Judah; but you must love honesty and integrity.
Psalms 34, 19 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; those crushed in spirit He delivers.
Psalms 126, 1-6 A song of ascents. When the Lord restores the fortunes of Zion – we see it as in a dream – our mouths shall be filled with laughter, our tongues, with songs of joy. Then shall they say among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them!” The Lord will do great things for us and we shall rejoice. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like watercourses in the Negeb. They who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. Though he goes along weeping, carrying the seed-bag, he shall come back with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves.
Psalms 147, 2 - 3 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; He gathers in the exiles of Israel. He heals their broken hearts, and binds up their wounds.
Proverbs 12, 18 There is blunt talk like sword-thrusts, but the speech of the wise is healing.
Ecclesiastes 3, 1 - 8 A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven: A time for being born and a time for dying, A time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted; A time for slaying and a time for healing, a time for tearing down and a time for building up; A time for weeping and a time for laughing, A time for wailing and a time for dancing; A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones, A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces; A time for seeking and a time for losing, A time for keeping and a time for discarding; A time for ripping and a time for sewing, A time for silence and a time for speaking; A time for loving and a time for hating; A time for war and a time for peace.
Nehemiah 8, 17 The whole community that returned from the captivity made booths and dwelt in the booths – the Israelites had not done so from the days of Joshua son of Nun to that day – and there was very great rejoicing.
Mishnah Avot 5:23 Reward is proportional to pain.
Mishnah Midot 2:2 All those who entered the Temple Mount entered on the right, went around, and exited on the left, except for someone who was a mourner, who went around to the left. [Others, seeing him go against the usual flow, would ask] “What ails you, that you go around to the left?” [He would answer,] “For I am a mourner.” [They would then respond,] “May he who dwells in this House comfort you.”
Sifre Devarim 342, 33 “And this is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before he died” (Deuteronomy 33:1). Since Moses had earlier spoken harsh words to Israel [- - - ] he now spoke to them with words of comfort: [- - - ] All the prophets learned from Moses; they would begin with harsh words, and then follow up with words of comfort.
Bereshit Rabbah (Vilna edition) 85,1 While the tribal progenitors [i.e. Joseph’s brothers] were engaged in selling Joseph, and Joseph was preoccupied with his sackcloth and fasting, and Reuven was preoccupied with his sackcloth and fasting, and Jacob was preoccupied with his sackcloth and fasting – Judah was busy taking a wife, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, was creating the light of the Messiah. [- - -] Before the first enslaver was born, the ultimate redeemer was born.
Eicha Raba (Vilna edition) Petichta 24 At that moment the matriarch, Rachel, jumped up before the Holy One, Blessed be He and said: “Master of the universe, You have clearly seen that Jacob your servant loved me inordinately and worked for me under my father for seven years. When he completed the seven years and it was time for me to wed my husband, my father suggested putting my sister in my place. When this became known to me I was pained, and I informed my husband and gave him a sign that he could differentiate between me and between my sister, so that my father could not make this switch. Afterwards I comforted myself and suffered my desire and I pitied my sister that she not be disgraced. And in the evening they gave my sister to my husband in my place, and I gave my sister all the signs that I had given to my husband that he will believe that she is Rachel. And I also slipped under the bed [- - -] and he talked with her and she was silent, and I answered everything so that he would not identify my sister’s voice, and I was kind to her and I was not jealous of her and did not shame her. And what am I, I who am flesh and blood, dust and ashes, I was not jealous in my affliction and did not bring about shame or disgrace. But You, the Living King, Merciful – why were You jealous of idolatry which is of no consequence, [for which] You exiled my sons and had them killed by the sword, so that their enemies did with them as they wished?” Immediately, the compassion and mercy of the Holy One, Blessed be He, was aroused, and He said, “For you, Rachel, I will return Israel to its rightful place.”
Song of Songs Rabbah (Vilna edition) 1:4 There was a woman in Sidon who lived for ten years with her husband without bearing him a child. They came to R. Shimon bar Yohai and asked to part from each other. He said to them, I adjure you, just as you have joined together by [feasting with] food and drink, you should not part without [feasting] with food and drink. They took his advice and arranged a festive day with a great feast, and they became somewhat inebriated. Feeling calm and relaxed, he said to her: “My daughter, choose any precious article in my house and take it with you to your father’s house.” What did she do? After he had fallen asleep, she called over to her servants and maidservants and said to them: “Lift him up on the bed and carry him to my father’s house.” At midnight, when the effects of the wine wore off, he woke up and said to her: “My daughter, where am I?” “You are in my father’s house,” she replied. “What am I doing in your father’s house?” he asked. She responded: “Last night, didn’t you say ‘choose any article in my house that you want and take it with you to your father’s house?’ There is no article in the world more precious to me than you.” They went to R. Shimon bar Yohai and he prayed on their behalf and they became pregnant.
Midrash on Psalms (Buber edition) 20,4 A parable of a father and son who were journeying on a road. The son, growing weary, asked his father: “Where is the city?” and the father replied: “My son, take this as a sign: when you see a burial ground, then surely the city is near. And so the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: when you see that troubles are pressing in on you, that will be the time of redemption.
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Megillah 13b God does not afflict Israel unless He first creates a remedy.
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Hagigah 12a With the light that the Holy One, Blessed be He created on the first day of Creation, man could see from one end of the earth to the other. When He looked out upon the generation of the flood and the generation of the dispersion [i.e. the tower of Babel], and saw that their deeds were corrupt, He removed the light from them and stored it. [- - -] For whom did he store the light? For the righteous in the world-to-come.
Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 8b “Our brothers who are suffering, who are despondent with this mourning, pay attention and understand: this occurs in all times, the way of the world since the six days of creation; many drank, many will drink; the drink of earlier generations will be the drink of later generations. Our brothers, may the master of consolations comfort you. Blessed is the One who comforts the mourners.”
Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 60b “[When a fire is ignited and spreads to thorns…] he who ignited the fire must make restitution” (Exodus 22:5). Said the Holy One, Blessed be He: I am obligated to make restitution for the fire that I ignited. I kindled a fire in Zion, as it is written, “[The Lord vented all His fury, poured out His blazing wrath;] He kindled a fire in Zion which consumed its foundations” (Lamentations 4:11); and in the future, I will build it by fire, as it is written, “And I myself, declares the Lord, will be a wall of fire all around it, and I will be a glory inside it” (Zechariah 2:9).
Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metziah 85a [The suffering] of Rebbi [i.e. Rabbi Yehudah the Prince] came as a result of an event, and left as a result of an event. [- - -] They were leading a calf to slaughter, when it hid its head among the folds of Rebbi’s clothing and cried. Rebbi said to the calf: “Go! For this you were created.” They said [in heaven]: Since he did not show mercy, let suffering come upon him. [- - -] One day, Rebbi’s servant was sweeping the house, and she began to sweep away some baby weasels that were there. Rebbi said to her: “Leave them; it is written: ‘His mercy extends to all His creations’ (Psalms 145:9). They said [in Heaven]: Since he shows mercy, let us show mercy upon him.
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Baba Batra 16a The Holy One, Blessed be He, created the evil impulse, and He created the Torah as its antidote.
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 3b The day is divided into twelve hours. During the first third, the Holy One, Blessed be He sits and studies Torah, and during the second third He sits in judgment of the entire world. When He sees that world deserves to be destroyed, He stands up from the seat of judgment and sits on the seat of mercy. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menahot 53b Why was Israel compared to an olive tree? [- - -] Just like an olive yields its oil only by pressing, so too Israel only repents through afflictions.
Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, Chapter Four Once, as Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai was leaving Jerusalem, Rabbi Joshua followed after him and beheld the Temple in ruins. “Woe unto us!” Rabbi Joshua cried, “that this, the place where the iniquities of Israel were atoned for, was destroyed!” “My son,” Rabbi Yohanan said to him, “do not take it so badly; we have another atonement as effective as this. And what is it? It is acts of loving-kindness.
Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, Chapter Fourteen When Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai’s son died, his disciples came in to comfort him…. Rabbi Eliezer ben Arakh entered, sat down before him, and said: “I shall tell you a parable. To what may this be compared? To a man with whom the king deposited some object for safekeeping. Every single day the man would weep and cry out, saying: ‘Woe unto me! When shall I be fully relieved of my responsibilities for this object?’ You too, master, you had a son: he studied the Torah – Scripture, Prophets and the Writings – and Mishnah, Halakhah, and Aggadah, and he departed from the world without sin. You should be comforted in that you returned what had been given to you in trust.” Rabbi Yohanan said to him: “Rabbi Eliezer, my son, you have comforted me the way men should give comfort!”
Shlomo Ibn Gevirol/ from Keter Malchut Lord of the Universe, If my sins are too great to bear, what will become of Your great name? And if I will not merit your compassion, who will have mercy on me apart from You? Therefore if You kill me – I will still wait for You And if You look for my sins I will run away from You – to You, and I will take shelter from Your anger – in Your shade, and I will cling to the borders of your compassion until You take pity on me, and You will not send me away but rather bless me. [1021-1058, Spain, poet and philosopher]
R. Nachman of Breslov/ from Likutei Moharan Tinyana 24 It is a great mitzvah to be continually joyous, and to overcome and distance sadness and the bitter blackness with as much strength as possible, and all the illness that is visited on men, they are all only the result of the ruin of happiness.
R. Nachman of Breslov/from Likutei Moharan Tinyana 112 As to the issue of strengthening oneself, so that man not lose faith under the weight of all the imperfections and errors generated by his own hands, respond and say: “If you believe that it is possible to corrupt – believe that it is possible to correct.” [1772, Mezibuz, Ukraine – 1810, Uman, Ukraine. Founder of the Breslov Hasidim, the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov]
The Kotzker Rebbe [the Rabbi of Kotzk] There is nothing more complete than a broken heart; no cry louder than absolute silence. [R. Menachem Mendel Morgenstern, 1787-1859, Poland. One of the great Hasidic leaders] [Later on in the source book, see the song by Naomi Shemer, Ayn Davar]
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook/ from Orot HaKodesh, Chapter 2, p. 314 The sanctity that destroys brings about great fighters who bring blessings to the world, the greatness of Moses who with a strong hand broke the Tablets of the Lord.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook/ from Orot HaKodesh, Chapter 2, p. 521 The alternating periods of good and bad fortune are recurring and frequent, both for the individual and the world-at-large, and in any event the overall momentum is one of rising and stabilizing [= repair]. The alternating situations, even during a particularly steep descent, have no more value than the waxing and waning of the moon, or the movement of the ocean’s tides, or of internal breathing, restoring breath into life, and the external breath that pushes out, or wakefulness and sleep, which while they seem to be opposites actually, both together, generate a perfect life.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook/ from Orot HaKodesh Chapter 3, p. 324 If we are destroyed, and the world is destroyed along with us, because of baseless hatred – we will return to be rebuilt, and the world will be rebuilt with us, by means of unconditional love.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook/ from Meged Yeraichim, Cheshvan When the soul illuminates, the heavens wrapped in fog also produce a pleasant light.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook/ from Arpilei Tohar 39 The righteous do not complain about wickedness – rather add justice; do not complain about heresy – rather increase faith; do not complain about ignorance – rather augment wisdom. [1865, Latvia – 1935, Jerusalem. The First Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi in the State of Israel, founder of the “Merkaz HaRav” Yeshiva]
Chaim Nachman Bialik/ from HaSefer HaIvri Only after the tree has shed its old fruit does it begin to grow new ones. [1873, Ukraine – 1934, Ramat Gan. The “National Poet”, essayist, writer, translator and editor]
Martin Buber / from Or Haganuz, p. 257 Rabbi Israel of Rozin has said: When a woman is pregnant and labor pains begin in the eighth month of her pregnancy, before it is time to give birth, there is an attempt to stop the labor pains. This is not so during the ninth month: If she feels labor pains then, they are intensified, so that she will give birth quickly. Therefore if the Rishonim [early Medieval sages] called out to the Heavens, to remove the pains of hardship from the earth, they were told that it was not yet time. And now, as redemption is close at hand, prayer does not help to remove the pains and distress of the world, but rather these pains are piled on, one atop the other, so that redemption will come quickly. [R. Israel of Rozin: Israel Friedman, 1796-1850. A founder of the Rozin Hasidim, the great-grandson of the Maggid of Mezritch. Martin Buber: 1878, Vienna – 1965, Jerusalem. Philosopher and educator. Recipient of the Israel Prize, 1958.]
Shai [Shmuel Yosef] Agnon/ from Sipurei HaBesht [Tales of the Besht], p. 34 The Besht was devoted to even those who had committed sins and possessed little grandeur themselves [- - -]. He said: Someone who has committed a sin and knows that he has committed a sin, he will be blessed by God, because He “abides with them in the midst of their uncleanness.” (Leviticus 16, 16) [The Baal Shem Tov (The Besht): R. Israel ben Eliezer, 1698-1760. The founder of Hasidism. Shmuel Yosef Agnon: 1887, Galicia – 1970, Jerusalem. Writer. Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature 1966]
Rabbi Yeshayahu Shapira/ from HaAdmor HeChalutz, p. 257 It is a very great task, placed on our shoulders by Divine Providence, to rebuild the Jewish people that were destroyed in the Diaspora. We are but a few, the survivors, upon whom is placed the burden to replenish what was taken from our people during the Holocaust and to establish the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel. Someone who is from Israel must study Torah and must observe the laws of the Torah, and these two must be intertwined. You can also serve God while driving a tractor, if it is the Land of Israel that you are plowing, because whatever is connected to the Land of Israel is a mitzvah [commandment]. Even a tractor, affording the fulfilling of mitzvot by means of demanding, physical labor, helps us in our holy work. We are now at the time of creation – when worlds are destroyed and new worlds are rebuilt – and we must take care that the new worlds will be built in the spirit of the Torah of Israel. Our world is not whole, but we will find our way. We must continue; this is a commandment from above. [1891, Poland – 1945, Kfar Hasidim. One of the leaders of religious Zionism. Known as the “Pioneer Rabbi” or the “The Pioneer Admor”.]
Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik / from Kol Dodi Dofek [Listen – My Beloved Knocks] In the midst of a terrifying night full of atrocities – Majdanek, Treblinka and Buchenwald; in a night of gas chambers and crematoria; in a night of God’s absolute concealment; in a night ruled by the devil of doubt and destruction, who wished to drag the betrothed from her home into the Catholic church; on a night of unrelenting searches and seeking the beloved – on this night the beloved’s body floats upward, and the God concealed in his hidden abode appeared suddenly and began to knock at the entrance to the tent of the sorrowful betrothed woman, swept away, tossing and turning from the spasms and torments of hell. As a result of the beatings and the knocking at the entrance to the tent of the betrothed, enveloped in her mourning, the State of Israel was born! [1903, Russia – 1993, The United States. One of the spiritual leaders of Orthodox Jewry in the United States.]
Abraham Joshua Heschel We are a nation in mourning, but not in despair. Wrapped in sorrow, but far from self-pity. Lamenting the tragedy, remembering our sins, prosecuting ourselves. The mourning is a cry for repentance. We are a nation soaked in grief whose purpose is repair. A sorrow this deep purifies; this is the uncharted path to deepening feelings of compassion, to the understanding that the history unfolding before our eyes is not the end of the story. The elegy imbues its tones into the sound of our laughter, however the deep sorrow also heralds the beginning process of redemption. [1907 – 1972. Philosopher, theologian, poet]
Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovitz / from Geula U'Medina [Redemption and the State], pp .146-147 This destruction is unique to our times. This was the destruction of the Diaspora. This is the first time that the Diaspora itself was destroyed. The Godlike Diaspora – the exile of the Shekhina [the presence of God] – reached the nadir of its tragic downward trajectory in all of history. And precisely because of the Shekhina’s participation in this exile – we also descended to the depths of troubles and pain and remained helpless. The power of redemption, which was never entirely gone, was destroyed completely this time. This is what I refer to as the destruction of exile. There was only one medication for the destruction of the Diaspora – national redemption as a light unto the nations, restoring the sovereignty of the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel. There is no doubt that without this we would be lost. The Diaspora was a ruin, powerless to continue, as if it had disappeared from the world. The establishment of the state brought about the only reviving wind, restoring the dry bones of the Diaspora. [1908, Romania – 1992, Jerusalem. Philosopher and theologian]
Leah Goldberg/ Shlosha Amdu [Three Were Standing] Three were standing facing the fragments constituting the whole – The wise one, the fool and the dreamer. The wise one said: Indeed I walk on a straight path – From a world that received no comfort to a world that could not be comforted And my heart understood what was prophesied. The fool said: The whole is standing firm. It only appears to me as if it is broken. Only because I am a fool I cannot fix it. The dreamer cried as he understood: After all, a fragment cannot join together with another fragment. And each fragment was held in his hand As if it were whole – And was again fragmented. [1911 – 1970. Poet, writer, translator, critic and literary scholar. Winner of the Israel Prize in 1970.]
Zelda/ Im Savi [With my Grandfather] Like our forefather Abraham Who counted the stars at night Who called out to his creator From within the furnace Whose son he bound on the altar That was my grandfather. That same perfect faith Inside the flame And the same soft look And wavy beard. Outside it was snowing Outside they roared: There is no justice and there is no judge. And in his cracked and shattered room The Cherubim sang Of a heavenly Jerusalem
Moshe Dayan / (excerpt from a speech delivered in 1969) The Jewish nation was blessed with two resources that enabled it to withstand its never-ending struggles: One of them is faith. I do necessarily refer here to religious faith, but rather to faith as the antithesis of despair, to faith as an antibiotic element injected into the spirit of the Israelite nation, dipped in blood from the first day of its existence: “When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you: ‘Live in spite of your blood.’ Yea, I said to you: ‘Live in spite of your blood.’” A faith that follows its path, its justness, its future, a faith that protects and inoculates itself against a fallen spirit, helplessness, nothingness, and inaction. The second is the “Fear not” from the verse “Fear not My servant Jacob.” Its significance – do not be fearful, do not be afraid. The decree handed to you is that of living in ongoing conflict, and Heaven forbid that cowardice is what causes you to fail! “Fear not” is the basis and the condition for the ability to withstand the struggle throughout all the changing generations and circumstances. [1915, Degania – 1981, buried in Nahalal. Military leader and statesman]
Chaim Guri / Min HaDlayka Hahiy [From That Conflagration] From that conflagration that burned and charred your tortured body We carried a torch of fire to light our souls And with this torch we lit the flame of freedom With which we set out for battle on our land. Your pain, that has no brother in pain resembling it We cast into iron – quarries and sharp-toothed plows We transformed your insult into guns Your eyes – into a lighthouse for the ships that approach at night. From the beacons of your ruined city We took the smashed and charred stone And turned it into a cornerstone and a foundation, To the stone in the wall that cannot be breached. Your song that was consumed in the flames Rises and bursts forth from the fighting forces as a vow And with it strength and honor rise as well And the ancient hope that is never lost. We have avenged your bitter and lonely death With our fists striking hot and heavy blows We have erected a monument here to the burnt ghetto A monument of life that will endure for all eternity. [born 1923. Poet, writer and filmmaker. Winner of the Israel Prize in 1988.]
Yehuda Amichai / Eylim Mitchalfim, HaTfilot Nisharot La’ad [The Gods Change, The Prayers Remain Forever] I saw on the street, on a summer’s eve, I saw a woman writing words On a paper spread across a locked wooden door, And she folded it and placed it between the door and the doorpost and she left. And I didn’t see her face nor the face of the man Who will read what is written And I didn’t see the words. There is a stone placed on my table and the word “Amen” is written on the stone, The fragment of a gravestone, the remnant of a Jewish cemetery Destroyed one thousand years ago, in the city where I was born. One word “Amen” is engraved deep in the stone A hard and final Amen for all that was and will never return, A softly singing Amen like those in the prayers, Amen and Amen, May it be God’s Wish. Broken gravestones, changing words, forgotten words, The lips that uttered them turned to dust, Languages as dead as men, Other languages coming to life, The Gods in the heavens vary, the Gods change, The prayers remain forever.
Yehuda Amichai / From I Wasn’t One of the Six Million. And What is my Life? Open Close Open And what is my life. I am like one who exited Egypt And the Sea of Reeds split in half, and I pass through dry ground With two walls of water to my right and to my left. Behind me are Pharaoh’s army and horsemen and ahead of me lies the desert And perhaps the Promised Land. This is my life.
Yehuda Amichai / HaMakom Bo Anu Tzodkim [The Place Where We Are Right] From this place where we are right Flowers in Spring Will never blossom. The place where we are right Is hard and trampled Like a courtyard. But doubts and loves Soften the world’s soil Like a mole, like a plow. And a whisper will be heard in the place Where there was a house That was destroyed. [1924-2000. Poet. Winner of the Israel Prize for 1982.]
Pinchas Sadeh / A Poem of the Tzefa [Viper] Snake, January 27, 1991 Night is falling on the city, on the abandoned streets. The winter skies are darkening. The trees through my window are wrapped in darkness, the birds in their nests, are falling asleep. In this darkness, somewhere among the bushes, a viper awaits. Once, somewhere, I read that when Napoleon stood at the foot of the Pyramids he addressed his soldiers and said: Four thousand years of history are watching you now. Within us, now, something else is watching. Deeper, loftier, than the Pyramids. The eyes of our fathers and mothers are watching us. Endless eyes, for more than two thousand years, from the ghettos of Worms and Mainz, Toledo, Nemirov, Kishinev, Treblinka, Auschwitz. And what do their eyes say. Their eyes say: our children, grandchildren, may you be blessed. That you are not digging graves for yourselves in the snow, and not burning in the crematoria, like us. That you are not torn apart by the teeth of dogs, and not stabbed in your mother’s womb. That you are not at a loss and helpless under the skies, as we were. That in your hands there is strength, and you sit upon your land. You are our comfort, as much as comfort is possible. [1929, Galicia – 1994, Jerusalem. Writer, poet and translator. The poem was written during the Persian Gulf War]
Naomi Shemer /Ayn Davar [It’s OK] If you get lost along the way, lose your bearings And a great storm passes over, promising a flood And I have no idea what tomorrow will bring Something within the darkness comforts me and sings: There is nothing more complete than a broken heart Or that cries out more from within the stillness A broken heart and a wounded heart, a heart that is tired of talking It knows the love that is bought with suffering And when it almost sinks, and the water is at its neck Something within the darkness comforts it and sings: There is nothing more complete than a broken heart Or that cries out more from within the stillness If inside this shouting stillness I sometimes can’t go on Speculate about the future yet remember the past Then in the hills of darkness that softly enclose me Something always tells me to reconcile and to wait: There is nothing more complete than a broken heart Or that cries out more from within the stillness.
Naomi Shemer / BiDamayich Chayii [Live in Spite of Your Blood] The ancient words give me strength I will find healing through the age-old voices They help me to live, they help me to grow To create a more beautiful world When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood I said to you: Live in spite of your blood And suddenly a rainbow opens above my head A colorful fan unfurls Heralding life, acknowledging hope And peace and tranquility and compassion When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood I said to you: Live in spite of your blood
Naomi Shemer / HaChagiga Nigmeret [The Celebration Ends] And sometimes the celebration ends, lights are put out The trumpet says “goodbye” to the violins The middle watch of the night kisses the third, To rise in the morning and start from the beginning. To rise tomorrow morning with a new song in your heart To sing it powerfully, to sing it in pain To hear flutes on wind that is free And to start from the beginning. From the beginning of your world in the morning to create always: The eart, the grass and all the luminaries And then from the dust, in man’s image To rise tomorrow morning and start from the beginning. To rise tomorrow morning with a new song [- - -] The celebration also ends for you, and at midnight It’s hard for you to find the homeward path From within the darkness we ask To rise tomorrow morning and start from the beginning. To rise tomorrow morning with a new song [- - -] [1930, Kvutzat Kinneret – 2004, Tel Aviv. Songwriter, composer and singer. Winner of the Israel Prize for 1983.]
Arik Einstein Ani Ve’Ata [You and I] You and I will change the world You and I – and then all will follow It’s already been said, before me – but that doesn’t matter You and I will change the world. You and I will start from the beginning We’ll have a hard time – it doesn’t matter, it’s not that bad It’s already been said, before me – but that doesn’t matter You and I will change the world.
Ehud Manor / HaShir HaBa [The Next Song] At the end of the day, at the edge of the path From the other side of the steep mountain When you collect the fragments What is really left? Only a few friends. Within the blackness, deep in the fog In the silent depths of the murky sea When you see the lies What is really left? Only a few friends. And when it seems as if the light of day will not return again, You suddenly understand what really matters, And you have a will and you have a reason To start thinking about the next song. From within the shade, from within bewilderment Your soul and your heart once again find peace When you revisit the songs And battle the sadness with a few friends. And when it seems as if the light of day [- - -]
Ehud Manor / Amud HaAish [The Pillar of Fire] I see it at night Standing in its spot – a pillar of fire, A tower of light rises up Sprouting roots as if it sought To tell the scattered nation To those lost somewhere in the desert: “Come here from the north, west, South and east.” Many nights it circled round Reflected in the eyes of all those who dreamt Directed in darkness to a land From which its light will never leave. To illuminate for the scattered nation, To those lost somewhere in the desert A path that leads here from the north, west, South and east. A pillar of fire, a pillar of dawn rises. [Binyamina, 1942 – Tel Aviv, 2005. Lyricist, translator and media personality. Winner of the Israel Prize for 1998]
Erez Biton/ Pigumim [Scaffolding] On the threshold of half a house in the Land of Israel Stood my father, pointing to the sides as he said: From this destruction we will one day build a kitchen In which to cook the tail of a Leviathan and a wild bull. And in destroying these we will build a corner of prayer To find a place for a synagogue. My father remained on the threshold, and all my life I Put up scaffolding to the heart of the sky. [Born in 1942 in Algeria. Immigrated to Israel in 1948. Poet.]
Yehonatan Gefen There are moments in war, when the friendship among men is a shining light. Whoever has witnessed the evacuation of wounded from a worn half-track to the evacuation point in a mosque at the crossroads, has been privileged to look into the melting pot of all that is good in the souls of men. God took a handful of dust and created man, but we are not magicians, we carried the wounded on stretchers, and we attempted to recreate flesh and blood. This is the softness taken from another world, [- - -] man and his God in an eternal moment of endless gratitude. The foundation of creating and reviving within the actions of war which by its very nature is complete destruction. [Born 1947 in Nahalal. Poet, playwright, writer, journalist and satirist.]
Nessa Rapoport/ From “Suffering,” A Woman’s Thoughts on Grieving
This is the teaching of suffering, if you allow it, as if in a great stroke the world you occupy divides itself: Here is what matters; the rest – no. Like a dancer who offers years of bloodied feet and tender injury toward a gift, a moment of perfect, elusive grace, we proceed through our buffeted lives, trying to make of ill fortune and random blows one small and beautiful thing, which all of us deserve not because of talent or means but simply because we live. It is the hardest of all learning that the opposite of depression is not happiness – a radiant, receding goal – but vitality, to feel alive each minute you are given. Then when sweetness comes it is most sweet, and when sorrow comes you know its name. In the aftermath of suffering, you chart each day as an explorer preceding map or compass, and what you find is shockingly alloyed: All happiness is dappled, and even bleakest tragedy has moments of strange praise. [Born in 1953 in Canada. Lives in New York. Novelist and poet.]
Moshe Shner/ Tikkun Olam The newest trend among Jews in the United States is “Tikkun Olam.” For those living in Israel, and for whom religion is associated with religious coercion, this undoubtedly sounds strange, but the Jewish organizations in the United States, for the most part, interpret Judaism as representing a sense of obligation to weaker individuals: Whether it takes the form of a demonstration in front of the Sudan embassy against the slaughter in Darfur, or in volunteering to work in backward villages in Asia. [Born in 1953 in Kibbutz Lochamei Hagetaot. Lecturer at Oranim College.]