September 26, 2018

Three poems for Seder Musings

“Not with a strong hand / And not with an outstretched arm / And not with great awe / And not with signs / And not with wonders / Rather hesitantly, with small steps, terrified by darkness / Softly / Dedicated / Purposefully / with accuracy / And love / Carrying little signs like the wrinkles of passing time, / The transition of seasons, my changing body, the pearls of my longings. Getting out of Egypt (Exodus)

—- by Hagit Ackerman

Reflections on Seder night, Mah nishtanah, we asked, / “How is this night different from all other nights”  / ”How changed?” Most of us are grown up now and have stopped asking, but some / go on asking all their lives, the way one asks / How are you, or what time is it, and keep on walking / without waiting for an answer. Mah nishtanah kol Layla, “How changed is every night,” / Like an alarm clock whose ticking is soothing and soporific. / Mah nishtanah, ha-kol yishtaneh, “What has changed, all shall be changed.” Change is God. / Reflections on Seder night. Of four children does the Torah speak: one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who knows / not how to ask. But nothing is said there / about a good one, or a loving one. / And that’s a question that has no answer, / and if there were an answer I wouldn’t want to know. / I who have passed through all the phases of the children / in their changing constellations, I’ve lived my life, the moon shed its light / on me for no reason, the sun went on its way, the Passovers / passed without an answer. Mah nishtanah. “What has changed?” Change is God, Death is his prophet.

—- by Yehuda Amichai (Translation: Channah Bloch and Chana Kornfeld)

Look around me now / I can see my life before me / Running rings around the way / It used to be

I am older now / I have more than what I wanted / But I wish that I had started Long before I did

And there’s so much time to make up / Everywhere you turn / Time we have wasted on the way

So much water moving / Underneath the bridge / Let the water come and carry us away

Oh when you were young / did you question all the answers / did you envy all the dancers / Who had all the nerve

Look round you now / You must go for what you wanted / Look at all my friends who did / And got what they deserved

And there’s so much love to make up / Everywhere you turn / Love we have wasted on the way

So much water moving / Underneath the bridge / Let the water come and carry us away

—-Graham Nash