Tisha B'av

The House of Rachel

by Rabbi Nota Schiller
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The House of Rachel by Nota Schiller

When Nebuchadnezzar goose-stepped his armies
And the gas chambers were filled by Pharaoh
Angels crawled, they said,
And kissed fleshy toes.

When the steely bayonets of Babylon
Carved Jew-stained days
And swastikas streaked the sunburnt pyramids
Rachel's womb was barren, they said, Barren as the untuned dunes.

But there were trysting times,
And they learned by the light of the flashing bayonet,
And built a Beis-Medrash in the hollow of a pyramid

And while armies, sterile as steel
Hostile as time, rusted in the sun,
The warm sweet sounds were heard,
Heard by the unborn born,

On concrete continents with pushcarts woodenly clacking
On Jew-hawking streets,
Where mothers were stooped so their sons could climb from their backs,
They heard.

They heard and they came,
They came and they courted,
They courted and they loved,
The sons, and suitors of Rachel

And out of her womb
She bore sons.


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