Gershon Hepner

Freedom to Betray the Family

Man’s freedom, Bloy declared, is the respect God pays
to him, which paradoxically is not removed,
as it perhaps should be, when man attempts to gaze
at a divine existence which can not be proved

though Jews who think they are all members of his fam-
ily, keep calling God to whom they pray, “our Father,”
thus mentioning that they regard the tribe of Abraham
as part of la familia of God, related, rather.

Extrapolating Bloy, our freedom now depends
on the respect we pay to other peoples’ views,
which can be dangerous if their point of view offends
reality, as it so often does, re Jews,

especially when vile views are by Jews expressed,
as alienated from their tribe as Ruth’s sib, Orpah,
who from her favor for Judeans retrogressed,
like Jewish liberals who grimly make this faux pas,

or faut pas they would never make if they regarded
themselves part of a Jewish family when they left
it high and dry, as Orpah did when she departed
from her identity as Jewish bride, bereaved, bereft.

Leon Bloy (1846-1917), French novelist, essayist, pamphleteer, and poet, known for his  passionate defense of Roman Catholicism,  once said that man’s freedom is the respect that God pays to him. His musings are recorded in Musings and Thunderings of Léon Bloy, Collected by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert. The Babylonian Talmud (Sotah 42b) identifies Orpah as the mother of Goliath, and three other giants, Saph, and Madon and Ishbibenob (see II Samuel 21:16–20).


GWH 5/23

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
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