The ninth of Av

Israeli flags fly near the Western Wall during prayers for Tisha B'Av, August 13, 2016. (Photo: Zack Wajsgras/Flash90)

From this mount were we driven by the fist of wrath,
dispersed by decree of the patient Judge of thoughts,
trampled and tormented for the full harsh sentence
drinking the dregs of bitter rebuke for the duration,
in the mourning pall of vagrancy and dejection
till a distant day of restitution and the hope be born.

Now the open hand of mercy gathers again the scattered,
drawn by bands of love to this mount and fertile valleys
and plains fertilized by the blood of our forefathers,
desolations watered and wakened to life from dry death,
tongues loosed from silence to sing in the ancient tongue
upright and brave with spade and sharp sword in hand
upon the ancient hills of Judah and the green Galilee,
deserts and coastlands and the snowcapped Hermon
melting living waters to fecundate Zion reborn robust,
nourishing the newborn infants of The Hope*
now thriving before the grinding teeth of cruel adversity.

*Ha Tikva: Israel’s national anthem


Spun on the loom of creation
with a thread of finest golden stardust,
all we are woven masterpieces of intricate craft
sparked to living wonder as precision timepieces
lit to a brief parenthesis of service and sacrifice,
glowing vessels wandering on a spinning earth
beneath expanding galaxies uncountable overhead,
yearning from resort to last resort a beckoning voice
from the spinning loom of creation,
whispering our hope and salvation.

Editor’s note: The 9th of the Hebrew month of Av is the day traditionally recognized as the day both temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, in 597 BCE by the Babylonians and in 70 CE by the Romans.