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Truth from multiplicity: Rabbis Without Borders text study

Daily April poem: inspired by a Yiddish folksong


Ribbons and pearls adorn
this golden land, and messiah

will come this very year.
If we can only believe.

The man who taught me this
wept every time he sang

his body shaking with yearning
for the world redeemed

where no oil fires burn
and no mothers grieve

where no one would pour water
down another man's nostrils, or

pack a handmade bomb into a square
where joyous throngs have gathered.

I don't know anymore
what would bring her, what

he's waiting for, but
tradition says moshiach sits

with the lepers outside the gates
with the sick and poor and frightened

waiting for us to offer
a drink of fresh water

a clean bandage
an embrace.




This poem was inspired by the Yiddish folksong "Shnirele Perele." You can watch/listen to it on YouTube, read a bit about its history, and read the lyrics here at Perry Greenbaum's blog if you're so inclined. I love this song, though the melody (and meaning) wrenches at my heart.

The last few stanzas refer to the Talmudic story about the messiah sitting outside the gates.