gershon hepner (5 3 38 / leipzig)
What The World Pursues
The Rabbis tell us what the world pursues
is always its most natural course.
Although they said this to the Jews.
the whole world should their view endorse.
The world is run on auto-pilot,
so don't blame God for what goes wrong,
or Jews or Mr. Pontius Pilate,
or those who are both bad and strong.
Although it's likely that God cares
about what happens, interference
is something that He rarely dares,
disappointing his adherents
who do not realize that He
prefers to stand aside and let
the word run automatically,
not even Pilot of the jet
He flies around in, letting cherubs
determine where He's flying next.
It must annoy Him how the Arabs
have so very greatly vexed
His Chosen people, but here's what
we need to know. The universe
runs its own course. Though this is not
the best of worlds, it could be worse.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
MISHNAH. THE ELDERS21 IN ROME WERE ASKED, 'IF [YOUR GOD] HAS NO DESIRE FOR IDOLATRY, WHY DOES HE NOT ABOLISH IT? ' THEY REPLIED, 'IF IT WAS SOMETHING UNNECESSARY TO THE WORLD THAT WAS WORSHIPPED, HE WOULD ABOLISH IT; BUT PEOPLE WORSHIP THE SUN, MOON, STARS AND PLANETS; SHOULD HE DESTROY HIS UNIVERSE ON ACCOUNT OF FOOLS! ' THEY SAID [TO THE ELDERS], 'IF SO, HE SHOULD DESTROY WHAT IS UNNECESSARY FOR THE WORLD AND LEAVE WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR THE WORLD! ' THEY REPLIED, '[IF HE DID THAT], WE SHOULD MERELY BE STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF THE WORSHIPPERS OF THESE, BECAUSE THEY WOULD SAY, 'BE SURE THAT THESE ARE DEITIES, FOR BEHOLD THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ABOLISHED! ''
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: Philosophers asked the elders in Rome, 'If your God has no desire for idolatry, why does He not abolish it? ' They replied, 'If it was something of which the world has no need that was worshipped, He would abolish it; but people worship the sun, moon, stars and planets; should He destroy the Universe on account of fools! The world pursues its natural course, and as for the fools who act wrongly, they will have to render an account. Another illustration: Suppose a man stole a measure of wheat and went and sowed it in the ground; it is right that it should not grow, but the world pursues its natural course and as for the fools who act wrongly, they will have to render an account. Another illustration: Suppose a man has intercourse with his neighbour's wife; it is right that she should not conceive, but the world pursues its natural course and as for the fools who act wrongly, they will have to render an account.' This is similar to what R. Simeon b. Lakish said: The Holy One, blessed be He, declared, Not enough that the wicked put My coinage to vulgar use, but they trouble Me and compel Me to set My seal thereon!
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