Gershon Hepner

Why ‘Never Again’ Is Not in the Hebrew Bible

While history cannot repeat itself, it very often rhymes:

allegedly a statement first made by the great Mark Twain,

Its moments are recorded by a meter that records the times

which don’t refrain from following this rule — this rhyme’s refrain.

The rule is one of the most basic ones the Hebrew Bible teaches,

a fact of which its readers ought to be alert, aware,

since it’s a rule that almost each of its prophetic writers preaches:

the reason why this “Never again” is one you won’t find there.

In “The Forgotten History of Hitler’s Establishment Enablers: The Nazi leader didn’t seize power; he was given it, The New Yorker, 3/18/24: Adam Gopnik writes:

Does history have patterns or merely circumstances and unique contingencies? Certainly, the Germany of 1932 was a place unto itself. The truth, that some cycles may recur but inexactly, is best captured in that fine aphorism “History does not repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes.” Appropriately, no historian is exactly sure who said this: widely credited to Mark Twain, it was more likely first said long after his death.

…..Democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies in bright midafternoon light, where politicians fall back on familiarities and make faint offers to authoritarians and say a firm and final no—and then wake up a few days later and say, Well, maybe this time, it might all work out, and look at the other side! ….. Precise circumstances never repeat, yet shapes and patterns so often recur. In history, it’s true, the same thing never happens twice. But the same things do.

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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