Kabbolas HaTorah in Verse
First, from Cross-Currents own poet laureate, Rabbi Yossi Huttler:
Sefirah (between the bookends)
so now after
to the end
of the account
to where we chose
and were Chosen
we the bride
and You chosson
Next, my all-time favorite, from Chaim Nachman Bialik. I once read parts of the original, which is far more beautiful, at a meeting at Knesset, as part of an Agudah delegation. Bialik learned in Volozhin before he left big-time, but remained conflicted about his connection to tradition. Some claim that as part of his disenchantment with his peers about how far they had gone, that he returned to putting on tefillin daily at the end of his life
Should you wish to know the Source,
From which your brothers drew…
Their strength of soul…
Their comfort, courage, patience, trust,
And iron might to bear their hardships
And suffer without end or measure?
And should you wish to see the Fort
Wherein your fathers refuge sought.
And all their sacred teasures hid,
The refuge that has still preserved
Your nation’s soul intact and pure
And when despised, and scorned, and scoffed,
Their faith they did not shame?
And should you wish to see and know
Their Mother, faithful, loving, kind
Who…sheltered them and shielded them.
And lulled them on her lap to sleep?
If you, my brother, know not
Then enter now the House of God,
The House of study, old and gray,
Throughout the scorching summer days
Thoughout the gloomy winter nights,
At morning midday or at eve…
And there you may still behold,
A group of Jews from the exile who bore the yoke of its burden who forget their toil,
through a worn out page of the Talmud.
And then your heart shall guess the truth,
That you have touched the sacred ground
Of a great people’s house of life.
And that your eys do gaze upon
The treasure of a nation’s soul.
It’s supposed to bread with ashk’nazi pronunciation by the way–if that makes it easier. You probably didn’t do that in the k’neset though. Or the Kenesses. 🙂