Gershon Hepner

The Horse and Its Rider

In the days of Moses, Israel had a revelation of God.

In the days of the amazing Besht, the Baal Shem Tov,
God had a revelation of Israel.

So Abraham Joshua Heschel opined,
when two contrasting eras were defined

this way by him, with God wagged by, let’s say, His tail —
His people. Surely there cannot be greater evidence of love
shown to the Jews by God, who surely finds our people very odd.

Without a rider, what use is the horse?
Smart horses are aware of this, of course,

and both are liable to fail
if they do not cooperate, as must a talmid with a rov,
unequal peas upon no pedestal, while sharing the same pod.

On Shabbat Shirah we read in Exod 15:1:

אָז יָשִׁיר-מֹשֶׁה וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת, לַיהוָה, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, לֵאמֹר: אָשִׁירָה לַיהוָה כִּי-גָאֹה גָּאָה, סוּס וְרֹכְבוֹ רָמָה בַיָּם. Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spoke, saying: I will sing unto the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.

Gershon Hepner

Shabbat Shirah, 5781

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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