Shai's Comments

I'll Be Magnified and Sanctified

by Yehuda Amichai translated by Glenda Abramson from London Magazine. Taken from "A Touch of Grace" Poems by Yehuda Amichai, Photographs by Didier Ben Loulou, an exhibition publication of the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding, and Coexistence in Jerusalem.


Between things falling and those hastily being raised

Is there place for one who lingers, one who remains?

Between things dying and those living

Is there place for one living quietly in his house,

One who stays where he is, one who sees, one who is seen?


I'm a judge, alone in judgement on the bench,

There is no accuser, no accused,

Only witnesses and testimony.


In my childhood I knew about illness in people,

I understood sick animals,

When I grew up I learned that trees too

Can be ill and suffer in silence.

I'll live long enough to understand a sick stone,

A suffering rock, a boulder in pain.

The universe will come full circle in me,

The inanimate speaks softly, the living stays silent.

This is my place

And in this way I'll be magnified

And sanctified.

Shai's Comments

The first line gets me, especially now, post 9/11. "Between things falling (e.g. the world trade centers) and those hastily being raised (war plans), Is there a place for one who lingers, one who remains?

"Between things dying (e.g. our idea of what the world was like and what was possible, 6,000 people) and those living (the survivors, all those who walked out of those buildings and walked out of the death zone to the north and to the east in a mass exodus), Is there a place for one living quietly in his house? (Is there any "normal" existence?).

I've struggled with identifying who the voice speaking is in the poem. I resonate most with the speaker being God. God is on its own course of evolution, and through the revelation of this poem we learn that "yitgadal v'yitkadesh" is an attempt for us to model God's own process of expansion of empathy, which is ultimately implemented by human beings through silence.

Please e-mail me your thoughts at shai@gluskin.org. Thanks,

Rabbi Shai

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