Baruch Dayan Emet

Baruch Dayan Emet. A Poem by Shaun Regenbaum (circa 2018)

Baruch Dayan Emet.
Baruch Dayan Emet?
He gives and He takes away.
Shall The Judge not do justice?

Words cannot describe,
Tears cannot cleanse,
Memories cannot replace,
Prayers cannot heal.

If The Judge takes away, to whom do we go with our sorrows?
If The King slays, to whom do we complain?
If The Friend betrays, to whom do we rely?
If a parent turns another way, to whom do we cry?

You claimed to be devoted forever, to betroth in justice.
Your anger was for a moment, but its consequences? Forever.
You ask for us to return, but Who pushed us away?
Your hand extends out, but in mercy or to maim?

My strength fails, and my bones wither.
I am forgotten,
A broken vessel littered.
How can I possibly hold back the deep, the waters below?

How can I claim Elokai Atah, if it is so?
I am in throes.
These eyes waste away with sobs.
And no cloth can possibly stem such a flow.

How great are You!
How great are You?
How long have I to live, that I should be patient?
You call me, so I say: Here I Am!

Teach me, and I shall be silent, tell me where I have been wrong.
Take something else as if it were of my own!
Is there injustice on my tongue?
I only ask once more, do not show anger.

They hoped perhaps God will be kind, so as to not perish.
By what account has this calamity been brought about us?
For I am of Your people, is that reason enough?
For fear of Your justice, I have been thrown under?

Do You require sacrifice, Yonah to the sea?
Do You require offerings, Eliyahu to the sky?
Do You require our souls, Nadav and Avihu?
Do You require our hopes, Moshe and Yirmiyahu?

You have brought us into the wilderness just to perish?
Cursed is the day that I was born. Let me die!
If this is the way in which You deal with me, kill me now!
Stand over me and take my life, for I writhe in pain!

Do You require tests, Iyov and his flock?
Do You require deafness, Achitophel and his advice?
Do You require might, Shimshon and his chains?
Do You require loyalty, Shaul and his aid?

Take my life, I would rather die than live.
Loose your hand, and cut me off!
Take your sword and run me through.
Enough! Take my life, for I am no good!

The pain burns inside.
It comes from within, to wreak demise.
It burns the flesh, and scars the bones
It crushes the chest, and rakes the eyes.

Oh, how can we look forward and say Baruch Dayan Emet?
Is there justice or truth in such a lie?
Akiva saw and laughed,
But was he a hero? More likely despised.

Saying words can create no justice.
No learning nor wishes can replace what has been broken.
Time can neither heal nor fix.
The future is just a moment past what has happened.

The world lives on, as if nothing matters.
Hevel Hevelim, can the wind be caught?
No understanding will remove such sadness.
Knowledge only grinds what has already been naught.

Baruch Dayan Emet?
Don’t we seek good, and avoid evil?
Haven’t we always set justice at our gates?
Were You not the one telling us to testify?

“What wrong have I done against you?”
“What hardship have I caused?”
“Answer Me!”
Here we stand and here we answer.

You have taken away that which is precious.
You have removed the cornerstone upon which we all lean.
We had found goodness and pursued justice.
But now its all gone, so what does it mean?

We’ve been told that we sow and do not reap.
That we trust no friend and rejoice with fiends.
But why have the pious vanished from the land?
The righteous perished without any demands?

You ask where were we when You closed the sea behind its doors?
When You clothed the sky and swaddled the clouds?
Were we not next to You?
Were we not there the whole time?

No, we have not walked the recesses of the depths,
Nor have we found the gates of a deep shade.
So we may not know which path leads to light or darkness.
But, have we not experienced the day and night?

We may not know to where the light leads, nor the way home from the reefs.
For everything there is a time, even adversity, a day of war and peace.
Who put this wisdom into hiding, and Who gave understanding to the mind?
We may not understand, but Your silence is a crime.

We have spoken once, and we will not reply,
Twice we have questioned, and no more shall we add.
We do not know the laws above, so we do not try to drag them below.
I had heard You with my ears, even seen You with my eyes, but now I feel You deep inside.

So I step back and admit defeat.
I am nothing but ashes and dust.
From whence I come I shall eventually return.
And there, beaten and crushed, I shall remain.

I was thrown overboard, into the treacherous sea,
In my trouble I called out, and eventually He answered me,
Into the lion’s den I was thrown, I waited and waited,
Until the morning came, and I was lifted out, exonerated.

Life can be a very sad story.
Sometimes we call out saying its too much,
This burden is not meant for me,
But we have no choice, a heavy yoke is our lot.

We have been told only one answer, that none can be found.
But we were right, silence is a punishment too harsh and cruel.
We may not hear the thunder and quakes, the rumblings and shakes,
But neither can a fool, we can only hope to hear the quiet voice.

It is found in those that love us,
It is found in the most dire of moments,
We expect to find it amongst family and friends,
But sometimes it comes even from our foes.

We do not know the path of life,
So, let us not claim that we have been led astray, left or right.
The spheres above are far away, and that distance makes them a ruthless enemy.
But, maybe just maybe, a voice can trickle its way down and find the ear that cries.

Baruch Dayan Emet?
It’s a hard statement to swallow.
We see no justice nor truth in what has been dealt.
Yet, perhaps we are not saying it as fact, as truth itself.

Baruch Dayan Emet?
Maybe it is the voice from far far away.
The silent whisper that attempts to break away.
Perhaps this is the statement that pierces the mountains.
That allows justice and righteous to flow freely through.
A small small glimmer that allows the sun to rise again.
The beginning of something that grows into a guide.
A small spark that if kindled can bring us through the valley of death.
A sputtering but living flame that shows us the despair left long ago behind,
That calls to travelers thrown to the side, beckoning them forward, past the large divides.

We do not know the paths of life,
Moshe and Eliyahu, Yirmiyahu and Yonah,
They may have looked to non-existence in desperation,
But there is one clear message, that life is nothing if not a tiring fight.
So we are left with only one option,
To walk and walk in the dark night,
Listening carefully for the smallest of cries,
To move and move, with nothing in sight,
To understand that we are those who do not know,
That we may object and testify,
But the courts above do not rectify,
The wrongs committed here and now.

A blind traveler can make a journey in the blink of an eye,
A mute can sit through an orchestra with one note.
A fool can sit along the watchtower and forget about the wall.
A human can live without having lived at all.
So, we just trudge along without insight
A weary soul on the lookout,

Life is the cruelest thing to ever have been made,
But if we lift the bindings that have been laid,
Perhaps we can begin to appreciate the journey,
A path called life that is both treacherous and bright
Towards a destination that we had not dreamt,
But we still move forward on this path not set,
Baruch Dayan Emet.