Questions: A Poem of Redemption to Ponder When You Pray

082313_jews_prayer_lgHow does God redeem us
And what does this mean?

A hawk flies overhead and lands
In a cottonwood tree on the plains.

Two killdeer cry out
To distract three coyotes.

Wind winds through furrows
In a field that will be alfalfa.

This is how God redeems Himself
In the midst of earthly bloodshed.

Yet how does God redeem us
And what does this mean?

As our parents grow old
We care for them totally.

As our friends and their children die
Too often prematurely, we mourn, and mourn with them.

As the madness of tyrants everywhere threatens
The very sanctity of life, we rage and protest.

This is how we redeem ourselves
In the midst of death and destruction.

Yet how does God redeem us
And what does this mean?

As the beauty and light of religion seem to fade
Into a fixed and thorny darkness, we look at the dark clouds.

As the embers of fires everywhere cease
To throw off sparks, we strike our fingers on stones to start new fires.

As the mysteries of life are solved one after the other
We unsolve old ones and look for new ones.

This is how we redeem God
In the midst of a cloud of unknowing.

Yet when we ask God to redeem us
What exactly does this mean?

That we are redeemed
Like coupons at a supermarket?

Forgiven for straying
From the straight and true in ourselves?

Saved and rescued
From our enemies, inner and outer?

Invited up the ladder of self-knowledge
To join the angels in heaven?

A hawk flies overhead
Our parents grow old

The beauty and light of religion
Seem to fade

We ask questions without answers
Or whose answers we do not understand

c 2015 Henry Rasof

This liturgical poem (or piyyut) is a geulah (“redemption”) and is meant to go in one of two places following the mi chamocha:

“With a new song the redeemed people gave praise. . . ; they gave thanks . . . and said,

“The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.”


“O Rock of Israel . . . Our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name. . . .” GEULAH PIYYUT ALSO MIGHT GO HERE. Blessed art thou . . . Who redeemed Israel.”

I’m sorry the poem is so gloomy. If you’re more optimistic than I am and more into harkening back to God’s redemption of the ancient Israelites from Egypt, I invite you to write a positive geulah and post it to the poetry section of the Boulder Jewish News.

About Henry Rasof z"l

I have been writing poetry for over fifty years. During this time, I have worked as a musician, chef, book acquisitions editor, and creative-writing instructor.

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