The Four Daughters of Jerusalem A Poem by Max Carl Kirk For Gerda Weissmann Klien
Four stolen daughters of Rachel's weeping Keeping quiet their womanly bond And their Jewish love Keeping well hidden the simple mystery That they are one another's treasure On the death march from Poland to Czechoslovakia With frozen feet and seeing toes broken off and left With the dead along the way But their souls bundled in one cord And always lifting up each other Above the demon waters To keep the friend The other self From drowning in the blanket of reality All the four making sure Without knowing it That at least one Would survive to bear witness To reveal the pain And help give birth again to Israel As the four were one Now the one is four And this is the testimony The burning life flame of All-Israel
What have you given birth to Oh daughters of Jerusalem? Why was mother Rachel Buried among the lambs? For what birth has she been weeping? For what birth have her arms been aching? Does Rachel weep And the heart of the Divine Presence does not cry? Do the tears of the Divine Presence fall But not those of the Messiah? For what is the long agony of labour? Was it only that Israel should place its trust Like the other nations In the atom-splitting war head Of total death and devastation? Is that warhead the God That brought Israel Up out of bondage From the land of Egypt? Arrogance, torturing and bullying Deceits and betrayals Hatreds, ferociousness, bitterness Wantonness, rapaciousness These things are not the elements of life \ All who defend their lives and empires by these means Are possessed by the lying demon of death They have lost the gentle knowledge of life Death enslaves them and laughs at them
They are deceived by their own fearful hearts They conspire with the bitter left hand of death To fight against deathâ€™s cruel and mighty right hand But everyone who is killed While praying humbly to Israelâ€™s God of life Sustains the world Truly the breath Of the one and only one of Israel Whose name the empires have made a curse Is the blessing that sustains the world Where he does not breathe his warm breath The inclinations of evil roar The greater devastation devours The lesser devastation And the embittered wisdom Devours the soured wisdom Until even the vessel of existence Begins to fade away On the death march from Poland to Czechoslovakia But the infants of Rachel embrace their Creator And discover in his hidden love a way to exist The death march ends By what power has it ended? Intelligence, guns, money, prayers? The fullness of Jewish suffering?
Young women lay half covered by death Half clothed by life Scattered about like rags by untold cruelties At their unchosen destination On the floor of a desolate modern factory
A viewer comes Is he a liberator? He comes with a gun to save the last of the body He comes by the power of his gun But his gun could not Have brought him sooner or later For there were greater powers at war Than the power of guns Trying to save his own soul The viewer asks to see what lays in the factory The trembling hand of the one who is four The weary witness Waves over all the survivors The viewer looks to see what she is showing him The hand of an angel beneath her elbow lifts her arm And calls him to see That surviving the great death march With dignity and faith and love Is Israel's reward Here is the place of welcoming This is the place of entrance For Israel's weeping Messiah into the world
Oh Israel, reborn in unspeakable sufferings And you remnant of the nations You few who pray today for Jerusalem Israel's one and only one Allows even you to bring your weapons Do you think they will save you? He has given you the power To serve life or serve death Choose! Make your final choice!
Then you will see Then you will understand That the power of the one and only one of Israel Is no weapon When we turned our backs On the warm, resurrecting embrace of our Creator The Messiah of his love-filled Torah Appeared before our face To show us the broken heart of God In the face of Rachel's daughters Shall arise the dawn of Earth’s new light The light of the first day Shall be uncovered in Rachel and Leah’s faces When Rachel gives new birth to Leah’s children And Leah gives new birth to Rachel’s infants The light of the earth shall be greater than the sun Let all fish and birds and animals of every kind join the joy Let the nations praise the one and only one of Israel All who would receive eyes to see by Earth’s new light Believe in the liberty of the souls Of those who marched with Israel’s hidden Messiah On the death march from Poland to Czechoslovakia Let every soul think of a new heart skill In the service of everlasting life!
Copyright ©2009 Max Carl Kirk
Mellow Wolf Publications