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Brothers Should be One Another’s Keepers

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]

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Gershon Hepner
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]

Jacob showed no fear of angels when

he had to wrestle with one, but he feared

his brother Esau, both men greedy when

they lived at home together. Unendeared

by the deer hunter, Jacob took his birth-

right, but they shared a blessing. He could handle

rebukes from God, but ones more down to earth,

caused by the birthright and the blessing scandal,

made Jacob panic, knowing that God makes

far better deals with men who have offended

than humans, who do not forgive mistakes,

including those in some ways unintended.

 

Jacob couldn’t tell himself that he

had never meant to harm his brother who

thus had no reason to forgive him. We

may sympathize with Esau – though no Jew

like Jacob – and the fact that Esau did

forgive his brother is far harder to

explain than angels fighting with a Yid,

a less than model, problematic Jew,

by Esau not just vanquished but

now blessing him just as the patriarch

had blessed them both, his heart not shut

to his own favorite or the matriarch’s.

 

Neither Esau nor his brother Jacob, Frère Jacques, was a sleeper,

as maybe Frère Jacques was in the nursery rhyme;

instead they both agreed that each should be his brother’s keeper,

with Esau not prepared to copy Abel’s brother’s crime.

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