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Bob MacDonald

hmmm - did you want to know someone has read this?

It is evocative of course even in English with various word orders reversed. Your translation I presume.

I too have a child whose life was destroyed not in such blind anger but from blindness and anger nonetheless.

I have too many detailed questions on the script and on the Hebrew - we would have to talk quietly ... in a year or two should I manage this continuing struggle to learn.

There are many places where I have no answer, but this denial of the throne of justice is not a place I have to go even in the psalms or Job or Qoheleth.

The axes of contradiction should not cross. Perhaps in the shadow of Yom Kippur, the irony of blood on us is more than his allusions can bear.

The fourth stanza, invoking terms more familiar, I find more appealing - hah - as if poetry should be lyrical only! But perhaps the abyss and the chaos describe our failure more adequately than the denial of the asymptote in the prior stanza. Perhaps too he recovers from his own extreme in writing the poem and expressing hope even in the corruption of creation by using the terms of its source.

I do sometimes have to walk in the relative safety of controlled violence - not by desire. I know the place of the lie and I try not to walk there even once. But no power of mine is able to help my own son - who, drugged up on his support money, visited me today. Through long practice, I was not negative. I am forced to preserve the home for positive therapeutic value. There is no simple death that frees me of this. I know of a mother whose child was killed - a similar brain damage from alcohol. She is still escaping years later. Here my wife and I can walk in love even though it is a privilege.

I do not find Revelation vengeful, by the way. Like you, I think(,) the purifying destruction has already been accomplished. Such at least is my limited knowledge or I presume or deny too much.

JohnFH

Thanks, Bob, for sharing your take on this poem, and relating it to your experience.

Your comment about the book of Revelation not being vengeful is perceptive. It also applies to this prayer. There are a surprising number of common themes. Whereas Ps 137 does ask for revenge (an unrequited request which has nonetheless not been censored) and works within the narrow categories of justice and retribution (not unlike our criminal justice systems), both the book of Revelation and Bialik's prayer see that as entirely insufficient. Both see that the problem is deeper, and that heaven and earth as we know them are rotten to the foundation and need replacement. Tit-for-tat retribution for neither John the seer nor Bialik is a satisfactory answer.

There is a sense in which the blood of the innocent John the seer and Bialik knew did pierce through and overturn the rotting foundations of the respective worlds they protested against. What is left of the worlds that put Christians to death in John's day and Jews in Bialik's day? Not one stone upon another.

We now live in a world in which Christians and Jews self-determine their relationship to the larger oikoumene to a degree that John the seer and Bialik could only dream of. But do we acquit ourselves well in this brave, new world? I cannot answer affirmatively.

My translation, I hope, captures something of original's tremendous energy.

eclexia

Thank you, John and Bob, for wrestling with these things here. Much of what you say resonates with my heart, even when I can't always keep up with or follow the theology and scholarship. Both of you have said things--John, in this series of posts, and Bob, in a comment you made on one of Lingamish's posts--which roll around productively in my head as I grapple with my own questions.

There is a difference I see between a heart's broken cries and lamenting for justice, vs. being consumed and driven by the pursuit of justice and retribution, which as stated above, can never be enough. Sometimes I think we shy away from the 1st because we're afraid of the powerful pull of the 2nd. But, as you said in another post in this series, John, it has been too long since the literature of lament has disturbed the sleep of the faithful. We amputate part of our spirit and thwart our own longing for justice when we cannot lament.

At the same time, I can become consumed and even destroyed by bitterness when justice becomes a demand (on myself and on other broken people and broken systems) instead of a desperate cry from a heart that continues to trust and wait on God. I don't think it is an issue of whether or not to fight for justice, but where that comes from--am I driven because I have to accomplish it or destroy those being unjust? Or am I fighting for justice as my heart becomes broken, but still trusting God's character and promises, whether or not I understand his ways and timing. I'm not sure if I'm making sense--these are not well developed thoughts on my part.

K.Charanyanond.

Thanks for your post,I've learn some information and get new idea to work with.

Ruth Housman

How do we come to sites on the internet? I was thinking about the binding of Isaac because of a program I was watching last night on TV and somehow I got to Bialik and this commentary. Some years ago I heard a voice, and I did assume this to be the voice of the Divine, asking me by name, Ruth, what do you want me to do with this world? Do you want me to destroy it?

Now this was surprising enough and all I could say in horror was, Destroy this beautiful world. No.

These words have come to haunt me through the days and I have learned, through reading, that it is said the world was created and destroyed more than once.

The terrible things that do happen to people and that people do to each other, are horrific. There are such dark, dark places in life, and Biblically, this story of Isaac, is very disturbing if one focuses on a God of love. I do know I am experiencing massive synchronicity, or the astonishment of connects through story, so this does force me to the WALL, that Wailing Wall, constantly, in truth and metaphor.

I understand the paradox. Despite and through it all I must somehow believe there is a master storyteller at work here and that somewhere, someday, it will all become clear and all resolve in love. Perhaps Shakespeare was right, and, "all the world's a stage". A staging ground for what? Perhaps, in some inchoate way, this has to do with soul and a learning curve, about compassion and some deeper truth, for us all.

JohnFH

Ruth,

Thank you for your heart-felt reflections. I love your questions, your sense of revelation and mystery combined.

A.Z. Foreman

For what it's worth, I just translated this poem into English verse complete with a reading in Ashkenazi Hebrew.

A.Z. Foreman

And I forgot to post a link

so here it is

JohnFH

Thanks for your splendid work, AZ. You have a creative and interesting blog, one of the best I am acquainted with.

A.Z. Foreman

Thank you *bows*. I'll be translating the Song of the Sea as well as parts of שיר השירים in a month or so. Will be interested to see your take on it.

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