Page 87 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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81
M
ark
H.
L
e iv ick
When we read and absorb Leivick’s poetry, we are uplifted.
e are ready to kiss the bruises left by chains on hands and
eet, because we know that we too are chained even though
he chains are not visible. We are imbued with the proud, su-
reme faith of the sacrifice and we perceive that it transcends
uman evil. We reaffirm anew the old Jewish principle that
oliness triumphs over force.
To the questions: why do people suffer? to what purpose is
uman suffering? Leivick gives no answer. Indeed, no one has
rovided an answer. For him there is one consolation: pain
urifies. The throbbing, rapturous song of redemption wells up
rom the abysm of sorrow. The longing for the Messiah burns
ore brightly than the Messiah himself. Soul elevation is not
quated with degradation of the body. Everyone can see farther,
ear more clearly, feel more deeply, and sense both the bright
nd shadowy sides of his surroundings, of his fellows and of
imself. Everything has more than one simple facet, and in this
here is consolation. We must aspire to sense that which is pure.
And if pain purifies, how pure is the Leivick image! His was
life of poverty and imprisonment, of privation and illness,
eset by all the fears endemic to man which can be borne only
y raising one’s sights and striving to rise to a higher level.
eivick viewed suffering as a universal phenomenon. If one can
orgive God, it is only because He too weeps at the destruction,
nd because as a result of human suffering His Spirit is in
xile too. “In all their distress I am distressed” (Isaiah). If He
ho watches over Israel permitted the Hitler holocaust, we
hould sympathize with Him and sing consolation songs and
ullabies to Him (and according to Leivick this is what Men-
ele’s “Fishke, the Lame,” Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye” and
ven Peretz’s “Bontche Shvayg” did). Such an intimate relation-
hip to God as a suffering Self has existed among Jews since the
ays of the prophets.
If we can find solace for our sorrows, it is in Leivick’s mating
f destruction with construction. His memory is a blessing for
ur day and for the future.