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Captives Of Zion

The captives of Zion are those who’ve been taken
as captives, by it captivated.
Desire for Zion they’ve never forsaken;
remembering it they become so elated
they think they are standing in Zion when they
are physically from it alas separated.
Captives to hope as well, each day they pray
to return to the place from which they have been gated.
It feels lonely without them just as they feel lonely
without it, and though God’s help may be belated,
they feel sure it is waiting for them, and them only,
to be symbiotically emancipated.

This poem was inspired by an analysis of אסיריך לשלום תשאלי הלא ציון
(“Zion, do you wonder about the well-being of your captives?”). a poem by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi that is one of the qinot, dirges,  that are  recited on Tisha B’Av.  Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik wrote about it:

The poet asks whether Zion is concerned with the well-being of her captives. It is noteworthy that they are described as the captives of Zion, not as the captives of the Romans or Babylonians. Indeed, the Jewish people are prisoners of the land. They love the land, are loyal to the land, and never want to be separated from the land. They are אסיריך, your captives. You, the land, have imprisoned them. No matter how difficult it will be for them, they will always try to return to you. Perhaps with a touch of irony, the poet directs his question to the land: “Are you interested in the welfare of your captives? They are concerned with you. Are you concerned with them?”

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 gershonhepner@gmail.com.
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