Dec 282012

If I were a kiruv professional (I mean kiruv for Judaism, not for poetry), instead of with bribery, thinly veiled indoctrination, bogus “proofs” and outright lies, I might try to hook the lost sheep with a demonstration of how Orthodoxy has (or at least once had) a place for striking expressions of both spiritual insight and doubt, of simultaneous estrangement from and rapprochement with the sublime, by one of the last century’s most talented poets. Instead I suppose it’s more important people learn that the world is evil, frumkeit is the balm in Gilead, and that one’s holy purpose in life is to work to support the exalted labors of some kollelnik yevreiskiy tuneyadets. Maybe that’s why I’m not a kiruv professional? Ahhh, it wouldn’t work anyway, Zelda’s from a Lubavitch family – pesulah.

Zelda (1914 – 1984)
My Soul Will Cry Out Then

My soul will cry out then:
Scorched lips
you’re on one side
and the world is on the other
the whole world’s on the other.

in that sun-drenched room
I stood
so close to her
that my lips touched her face
made strange with pangs of death.
She pronounced my name
in a voice
that slept upon the seafloor,
in a distant, muffled voice
that smashed to pieces all the mirrors
made of silver
they signified my name,
her smoking lips.

אז תצעק נשמתי

אָז תִּצְעַק נִשְׁמָתִי:
שְׂפָתַיִם חֲרוּכוֹת
אַתֶּן בְּצַד אֶחָד
וְהָעוֹלָם בַּצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי
וְכָל הָעוֹלָם בַּצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי.

בְּאוֹתוֹ חֶדֶר מוּצַף שֶׁמֶשׁ
כֹּה קָרוֹב אֵלֶיהָ
שֶׁפִּי נָגַע בְּפָנֶיהָ
אֲשֶׁר שֻׁנּוּ בְּחֶבְלֵי מָוֶת.
הִיא בִּטְּאָה אֶת שְׁמִי
שֶׁלָּן עַל קַרְקַע הַיָּם,
בְּקוֹל רָחוֹק וּמְעֻמְעָם
שֶׁנִּפֵּץ לִרְסִיסִים אֶת מַרְאוֹת
אוֹתְתוּ אֶת שְׁמִי
שְׂפָתֶיהָ הָעֲשֵׁנוֹת.


‘Az titzʕák nishmatí:
sefatáyim ḥarukhót
‘atén be-tzád ‘eḥád
ve-ha-ʕolám ba-tzád ha-sheiní
ve-khól ha-ʕolám ba-tzád ha-sheiní.

be-‘otó ḥéder mutzáf shémesh
koh karóv ‘eiléha
she-pí nagáʕ be-fanéha
‘ashér shunú be-ḥevléi mávet.
Hi bit’áh ‘et shmí
she-lán ʕal karkáʕ ha-yám,
be-kól raḥók u-meʕumʕám
she-nipéitz lirsisím ‘et mar’ót
‘otetú ‘et shmí
sefatéha ha-ʕasheinót.

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