The Wandering Jew


‘If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…
            then the waters had overwhelmed us…
                                                        then the proud waters had gone over our soul.’
                                                                        Psalm 124

In war and wars there is no rest,
Even in the right,
Only weary innocence and loss
And blood that weeps and blood that lets.

Jeshurun would not fight,
But rather rest.
And yet, and yet.

There is no going back—
Not to the right,
Nor to the left,
Nor Jacob’s return to late and other bittersweet sojourns,
Abodes all long razed,
Gutted by an enemy who pursues
Jacob’s tribes of wandering Jews .

In this our day
Look not to former friendly lodgings and estates.
They, too, have ceased to be your home.

And those who gawked your nakedness,
Amalek and his modern kin,
Who feigned sorrow and horror in the death camps’ stench,
Bid you blessing and a second Exodus.

What say they now?
Have they so soon forgotten Rachel’s children’s deaths?

Their reprieves and shallow groans are not so deep,
Nor felt in heart,
But mere sentiment born of shame
To be pinned upon a sleeve.

Ashamed for a season,
The little diplomatic leave they last let
Did cast you upon a shore—
Your Father’s ancient Rock,
That place of ancestral footfalls.

Be still and listen:

We hear their cadences marked by weighty steps and staves.
They call across the ageless past to rally Ariel and Jeshurun.
They come.

Has that Rock now become a sand,
And His ancient people washed upon a bar,
To be carried dead and drown before the tide
And the morning’s mourning crescent moon?

Doubt not,
Nor fear the test.
It is time to believe the prophets.

Lift up your eyes and see.
There, in a cleft beyond the waves,
A mast, a yard spar crossed,
A sail.

Yea, all the telltale signs foretell.

Lift up your heart.
They come!
A ship, a people—called, sent.

Fear not.
There is yet someone on the sea who sees,
And remembers the perils of Ariel.
There is One pierced who searches for you,
One who will not let Jeshurun stand forlorn.
There is One who will by wind and words
Stand against the rising waters.

‘O sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
And thou moon, in the valley of Ajalon’,
Stay the sea that it might be said again:
‘The Lord fought for Israel’.

Elliott Tepper