March 14, 2024
Israel’s victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17, 8 – 16). Chromolithograph after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German painter, 1794 – 1872), published in 1900. (ZU_09/Getty Images)

We need grace to accept with some serenity

all the many things that can’t be changed,

and realize that it may be a gross obscenity

by them to be quite seriously deranged,

just as indeed it may be if we are not brave enough

to try to change whatever should be changed and might

be changed if we try hard, though life is often tough

for those who do just what is right.

Enough should be our mantra when receiving what

appears to us to be quite good, and we

should also always feel quite satisfied about our lot,

surrendering to it with serenity.


Unfortunately, what Pope Francis has metaphorically described

as the flag of courage,

perhaps is just as corny as corn flakes and as unappealing

as for unimpoverished people, porridge,

and the opposite of the flag that enabled the

courageous Israelites to defeat

Amalek, the hands that Moses raised to heaven,

refusing to retreat.


Exod. 17:11 states:

הָיָ֗ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָרִ֥ים מֹשֶׁ֛ה יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֣ר יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר יָנִ֛יחַ יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֥ר עֲמָלֵֽק׃

Then, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; but whenever he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

In “Pope Says Ukraine Should Have the ‘Courage of the White Flag,” NYT, 3/9/24, Jason Horowitz writes:

Francis used the term white flag in a television interview taped in February with the Swiss television channel RSI. The topic of the interview was the color white. An interviewer asked Francis if he believed that in Ukraine there was the need to “surrender, the white flag in this case,” or if such a capitulation would only legitimize the actions of strongmen.

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 gershonhepner@gmail.com.

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