What is not passed on now is lost,
and it is not enough to borrow
the past, for it must be embossed
in order to have a true tomorrow.
That’s why Jews choose to celebrate
at winter’s end, first nights of Passover,
our past to which we must relate,
passed on to all, and not passed over,
by wise ones or the ones who’re wicked,
and not just foolish offspring, even
ones who do not own a ticket,
not asking: “What’s this web we’re weavin’?”
not understanding just how vital
is asking about long ago,
on Passover, despite its title,
not passing over melted snow.
In “Past Imperfect,” WSJ, 3/19/21, Liesl Schillinger, reviewing “The Art of Losing” by Alice Zetiner, a book about the exploration of the past of her ancestral home, writes “What is not passed on is lost, that’s all there is to it.” This reminds me not only of the French poet François Villon’s “snows of yesteryear,” but of the haroset that causes the bitterness of maror to melt in our mouths. It also reminds me of the third cardinal rule that Menahem Begin said he had learned while growing up in Brisk, one recalled by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik in a Tikvah lecture on 3/22/21: “Happy is the man who is able to bear the yoke of his childhood.”
Erev Pesach, 5781
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 [email protected].