Next Year in Jerusalem, No Kidding

There was a young goat
who was sold for a groat
and also a cute little cat, sir.
The dog said, I quote,
“You stick in my throat,”
and ate the cat, helped down with matzoh.

But when the poor dog
was hit by a log,
the home of the last spotted owl, sir,
he bit a wild hog
and rushed to a bog,
and barked, saying: “All cats are foul, sir.”

Then came a big fire
which burned log and briar
while the dog ran away to the Shetlands;
the problem was dire,
it looked like a pyre
till the fire was quenched by the wetlands.

There next came an ox
whose ball-bearings were rocks!
When Ox said  “Moo,” all cows obeyed, sir;
it drank dry the docks
till the people said: “Vox
of an ox is most surely vox dei, sir.”

The ox was then killed
by a slaughterer skilled
in laws of shekhita quite glatt, sir;
when people were billed,
before they were filled
they learned that the prices weren’t cut, sir.

The malakh hamavet,
death’s angel, like covid,
with bad breath killed this ritual slaughterer,
exacting as shophet
the talionic profit
he makes shorting lies as a shorterer.

And then there was God,
decidedly odd,
Hear Israel! And there’s only One sir;
He killed the poor sod,
then disposed of his bod,
singing “Had Gadya,” having great fun, sir,

recalling the goat,
and others of note
including of course the sweet doggie;
I’m sure He must gloat
on the Angel who smote
the slaughterer unsynagoguey.

Though He is, of course,
most guilty of force,
there’s nobody willing to try Him;
He’s the One we endorse
as we all make our course
to sleep before “Yerushalayim,”

the last word we say,
hoping, “Next year we may
in Jerusalem all be together,”
a wish we pass over,
air-blown like a shofar,
tied tightly by golus’s tether.

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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