Page 104 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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(cheated) day laborer with his tools in his belt. He thus debunks
the prophetic stance he has otherwise adopted; “I will re tu rn
to my pasture and its valleys/ and I will make my covenant with
the sycamores o f the forest./ But you — you are co rrup tion
and rot/ and tomorrow the storm will carry you all away.” Lit­
erary in terp re tation o f Bialik is complex and voluminous. Bialik
has to be understood as functioning between the polarities o f
public involvement and the desire for privacy, between a fu ture-
directed optimism and a sense o f desolation and despair.
Space does not perm it inclusion o f all the relevant treatments
o f the biblical prophets. We may cite some in terpre tations o f
Jonah , the an ti-p rophe t who flees his mission, who acts ou t more
extremely the resistance to prophecy o f Moses and Jerem iah .
The difference, however, is that unlike o ther prophets, Jonah
rejects God’s message o f mercy. He demands only pun ishm en t
for the sinner. Lamdan’s poem, “Jonah Flees From His God,”
presents the theme o f a rejection o f election, mission and suf­
fering found in some o f his o the r poems, as we have noted.
Jonah wants privacy and peace: “Why do You deny shelter to
one who has m u rdered his tranquil soul/ and cast its pieces to
others, who never sought it?” Aharon Zeitlin (1898-1973), in
the long poem, “Jo n ah ,” stresses J o n a h ’s egotism, social ind if­
ference and bu rden o f anger. Jonah despises the God who loves
prayer and adulation, who created sin and Satan as an en te r­
tainment for Himself. The unwilling p rophe t wants death , the
only re lief he can see from his ange r and sense o f betrayal,
but God will not gran t it to him: “Woe, the One has betrayed
me, the one who is in His image.”
To conclude on a positive note, a b rief poem by B. Mordechai
(1910-1986), “T h e Vision o f the Dry Bones,” describes the mi­
raculous event from the point o f view o f one o f the dead being
revived and as a m e tapho r for contemporary Jewish revival.
He, the Jew, is emotionally cut off, “a tear that has no eye or
eyelid.” T h e wonder happens, the tumu lt o f a reviving people
free o f the burdens o f its past is heard , and “the great awe
and glory and all the lights o f spring slap across my face.”
As seen from this b rief and partial survey, the biblical p ro p h ­
ets serve as vehicles for modern writers to record the ir own
o r their contemporaries’ despair, rebellion and affirmation.