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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ELEAZAR ben KALLIR -- Poet of the Land of Israel

Eleazar ben Kallir lived in the Land of Israel in the period of Byzantine oppression (circa 6th century CE). He knew that the Temple was destroyed, that Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem, and forbidden to rebuild the Temple. Jews throughout the country were harassed by the Church and by monks. Laws discriminated against the Jews. Yet, there was still a measure of law and order which disappeared in the country at least by the 8th century after the Arab Abbasid dynasty had taken over, whereas the Arab Umayyad dynasty had been relatively friendly, at least in the first decades of its rule in Israel.
Eleazar wrote of his mourning and yearnings for Zion. Some of his works are part of the synagogue service to this day.

The Dialogue of Zion and God (אם הבנים)
. . .
"My husband has abandoned me and turned away,
and has not remembered my love as a bride;
he has scattered and dispersed me far from my land;
he has let all my tormentors
rejoice at my downfall."
. . . .
"O my dove,
O plant of delight in my garden bed,
why do you cry out against me?
I have already answered your prayer,
as I did in days of old,
when I dwelt crowned in your midst.
. . . .
"I have turned to you with great compassion, and now
I march through the gate of Bath-Rabbim [Jerusalem].
Your enemies, ever more numerous --
I shook them
till they were snuffed out like smoke.

"My dark one,
I shall never desert you;
I shall reach out again
and take you to Myself. . ."

[translation -- T. Carmi -- from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse]

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Coming soon: Karl Marx on the Muslim/Ottoman system of government and laws, concerning non-Muslims in particular, especially as manifested in Jerusalem up to the mid-19th century


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