FROM MOUNT SINAI TO LUBLIN: HOLOCAUST POEM OF JACOB GLATSTEIN

March 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Art, Books, History, Judaica, Literary | Leave a comment

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The Yiddish poet, Jacob Glatstein

Jewish theologians since the Holocaust have struggled to understand God’s role in the Holocaust. The American rabbi, Richard Rubinstein, argues that God is dead (or, at least, the personal God of Jewish tradition). Martin Buber speaks of an “eclipse” or of the “hidden face” of God.”

The Yiddish poet, Jacob Glatstein, pushes the theological envelope even further.

In a 1946 poem entitled, “Not The Dead Praise God” he hints that the Shoah ended God’s role in our lives.

Playing on the ancient Jewish tradition that the covenant with God was accepted when all the people of Israel stood together at Sinai, Glatstein hints that the vast, communal destruction of the Jews nullifies that bond:

We received the Torah at Mount Sinai and in Lublin we gave it back.

Not the dead praise God-

the Torah was given for the living.

And as we all together

stood in a body

at the Granting of the Torah,

so truly did we all die in Lublin.

“Not The Dead Praise God”

Jacob Glatstein 1946

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