We Do Not Understand

Found In: Yom Kippur, Holocaust Remembrance Day

Tags: martyrology

By Rabbi Jill Hausman | Poem

We do not understand
We cannot grasp six million dead
And if their names were said
Three months we would be standing here.
We are diminished by the hugeness
The intensity of hatred: of fires fanned
And we do not understand.

All, all was swept away
The lives, the way of life,
The scholars, the pious
No sins could be that great, no faults so grave.
They could have; should have left, or could they?
Or was it planned?
And we do not understand.

The innocent who died: free of guilt and free of sin
The children, maidens, hardly had they lived;
Their cries, the trust betrayed
Reflected in their eyes.
Could You have made it one, or two perhaps,
But six? Why six? We cannot help demand,
And we do not understand

And did they die for something?
For our return to Zion?
Were they martyrs for rebirth?
Were they martyrs for the land?
Was their death ordained
By hand of God or hand of man?
And we do not understand.

And did You hide Your countenance?
You must have heard their prayers.
Were you busy with affairs
That we can’t even fathom?
And why were they expendable
So many grains of sand
And we do not understand.

But could it have been so much worse
And could we all have died;
Tiny miracles of persons saved
Of people still alive.
Did it finally stem from our free will
Man’s inhumanity to man?
And we do not understand.

Please remember to our merit
Or put it down to desperation
That we have not forsaken.
We are still here
We are still Jews, Am Yisrael chai.
Please, oh Please
O One Most High
Take us by the hand;
Be near us, comfort, teach us
For we do not understand.

April 2006