Haazinu by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Haazinu: An Adaptation for 2018

By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

 

                                      Blossom, O Heavens, when I invoke,

                                      Let the round Earth attend to my saga;

                                      We laud the LORD, Maker of Heaven and Earth—

                                      For all of our lives, He’s the Author.

 

                                      We mortals are human, and oft miss the mark,

                                      We fail when attempting endeavor:

                                      It is our God’s duty to discern in us Right,

                                      And teach us that sin cannot prosper.

 

                                      We can blame the Almighty for all that goes wrong,

                                      We can lay our shortcomings before Him—

                                      Accuse Him of setting a snare to entrap us,

                                      Or placing before us temptation.

 

                                      God grants all free will and free life and free choice:

                                      God formed human beings, not robots.

                                      But bind your free will to responsible choice,

                                      Not grabbing at gratification.

 

                                      Our people lay claim to be Chosen, in truth;

                                      The world looks upon us as models,

                                      And, when a Jew errs, they must quickly repent,

                                      For their sin reflects on our People.

 

                                      While those of us blessed with high station in life

                                      Must accept that this comes with constraining:

                                      Their Sense of Temptation they must overcome,

                                      Or plummet to th’ Pit, as did Korach.

 

                                      Beloved before God is telling the truth,

                                      And that is the theme of this Season;

                                      A leader who lies is a dysfunctional dolt,

                                      And God will dispose him in due time.

 

                                      The World judges all Jews by the behavior of each,

                                      And, all the moreso, those in Power;

                                      And nothing in His nostrils raises a stench

                                      As a Jew in high place acting badly.

 

                                      Consider your deeds, O My People, repent!

                                      The Judgment-Day is fast approaching

                                      Think not you can sin and hide it from view;

                                      The Eye of the Lord is upon you.

 

                                      O Israel! Make shine in our perilous world

                                      The sins you confess at this season;

                                      Though your deeds be dyed crimson,

                                      God will turn them to snow—

                                      So may this continue, forever.

 

                                      Amen. Selah.


Rabbi David Hartley Mark is from New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended Yeshiva University, the City University of NY Graduate Center for English Literature, and received semicha at the Academy for Jewish Religion. He currently teaches English at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, and has a Shabbat pulpit at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach. His literary tastes run to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stephen King, King David, Kohelet, Christopher Marlowe, and the Harlem Renaissance.

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