Originally written in Jerusalem, amidst Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan). Dedicated in memory of Caption Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, both killed in battle in Gaza. Neither of their bodies have been recovered. Also in memory of Micky Mark and Hallel Yaffa Ariel, taken from us so viciously.
‘What’s your name?’ they ask.
They call her Ne’emana – the Faithful One.
They call her Emet – Truth.
But on those dark days, she is reminded of your words.
When she becomes bezuya – despised, disheartened and condemned.
A reminder of mistakes from generations ago.
But your silence stings the most. Rejected, a despondent maiden.
‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem’, the prophet Isaiah says.
For she is delicate. Fragile. Made of layers of rubble.
Disguised by the girth of her walls.
Barriers that protect
Delicate and fragile; gentle and tender; sensitive to the touch.
Words you do not know.
Your words are explosives. They leave layers of scars.
How do you bandage wounds you cannot see?
Walls surround her. With the years that go by, the higher they reach.
‘The past is my present’, says Jerusalem. ‘I am a living witness.’
To the battles; the swords; the deaths of her beloveds.
She carries those lacerations on her body; and yes, the damage remains.
‘Let me speak!’ Jerusalem implores. ‘My streets tell a story.’
But her voice is interrupted. Cut short by every innocent life lost.
Defend their nation, drive home with their spouse and children, sleep peacefully in their beds
A young girl’s dance recital, a last memory.
Bodies and souls.
She thirsts for justice. Begging for peace.
Ready to nourish a willing partner.
Rejected and condemned.
These very stones mark moments in history
Like the Iron Dome tracks the path of their missiles
Destroying the evil that haunts her
Anticipating that split-second
When man’s creativity meets God’s boundless infinitude.
Saving thousands. An entire nation.
‘My flesh tells a story’, says Jerusalem.
Of unrequited love; unanswered calls, ongoing betrayal.
Slingshots of hostility in place of a warm embrace.
Jerusalem may be called the mother of Israel.
But she searches for a father who cares.
Lamenting his absence.
‘Disconnect’, they say. ‘Cut your ties.’
For absence is presence, and presence is poison.
She dodges the missiles of her own thoughts.
Their words become the Red-Alert of her life.
So she builds a safe room
And seals it with a kiss.
Thick walls of a different sort.
A shelter from your bullets. Your pain. Your misery.
‘When will this end?’ she asks.
When will she see Your bountiful glory?
History is not blind, don’t you see?
Do we seek what cannot exist?
The world may be an eye; Jerusalem the pupil
Discerning truth from your deception
Battle after battle
The dust is the witness
She desperately grasps for that inner-most point.
The Kodesh Kedoshim inside her belly
A safe, sacred space.
Gems deep inside those piles of stones
Buried within the cement of her walls
She desires words of solace, but there are no words left.
You obviously are indifferent to her pain.
Your venomous resentment seeps into an infrequent, charged discourse.
The Sages say
That Rabbi Akiva saw a fox
Rummaging through the ruins of the Temple.
The others rent their clothes and began to weep
Yet he began to laugh.
‘We are the witnesses!’ He shouts with relief.
‘Glory for Jerusalem is on its way!’
When old men and old women and your grandchildren alike
Will bask in the glory of God’s chosen city.
There is hope, he insisted.
Do not despair.
Even those vicious predators that hunt you will see their end.
When All Will Know The Truth.
Like the unfinished square on the wall, she wears the bracelet on her wrist
To better times despite the outpouring of blood
To a new light despite the darkness
A prayer for a new reality
The howls of that fox, recall
Are symbols of hope.
The Red Alert – a shofar blasting through our veins
“Sderot — Shaar HaNegev
Sderot — Ashkelon
Sderot — Haifa
Sderot — Tel Aviv
Sderot — Rishon LeTzion
Sderot — Jerusalemmmmmm.”
Parents and children.
Wives and husbands.
Sons taken away.
Separating soulmates from their promised partners.
But those predators of today.
Where is the hope, dear Rabbi Akiva?
All flesh is grass,
all its goodness like flowers in the field
Is that comfort, I ask you, dear prophet Isaiah?
That one day we will all colorfully blossom?
Bask as one in the sunshine?
Receiving the blessings of dew and rain?
That rubble around her
The dust on her shoes
That unspackled square on the wall
Placards along the street name the dead
Eternal testaments to the iniquity of the world.
Your safe room needs not their approval.
Do not second-guess yourself: save your people, your nation.
Pray for peace, and it will come.
You will prevail, Ne’emana.
For your dignity
your loved ones, those now
And those to come.
‘Speak tenderly to me’, says Jerusalem
But you know not how.
So she severs herself from your profanity.
She may be delicate, but she is not weak.
She turned those stones into walls of protection
Leaving one small opening for the joy to come
A prophecy: the dance that awaits her
A bride in the wedding hall
Her beloved’s embrace.
Those who have loved her.
Those who have rallied for her.
Those who have voiced their support and care.
Reunited with those whom they love.
She stands with us here.
We are Jerusalem.