Gershon Hepner

Birdsong and the symphony of the Torah

I firmly do believe that I have never heard

a symphony as lovely as the early bird-

song that I heard this morning in a springtime shower,

nor have I seen a painting lovelier than the flower

that I saw only yesterday within my garden.

From great composers and great artists I beg pardon.


Arukh HaShulhan, straight, decisively, declared

that he regarded as a symphony the Torah,

perhaps implying that its words might be compared

to sounds of music that don’t flourish in mere flora,


where beauty, like that of the Torah, can bring joy

to beings that have brains providing them this power.

To generate such joy all beings must employ

these instruments which are not present in a flower.


Arukh HaShulhan, meaning “laid table,” is the title of  work of halacha written by Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829–1908), a rabbi who is widely known by the name of  this book, which is a well-organized summary of the sources for each chapter of the main code of Jewish law, the Shulhan Arukh, and its commentaries, with special emphasis on the positions of the Jerusalem Talmud and Maimonides.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at