Fruit of Israel

In response to a friend’s reflections from Nazareth, I’m inspired to share Yehuda Amichai’s poem “Tourists.”  My emphasis is the second section.

Incidentally, I bought a collection of Amichai’s poems translated from Hebrew to English by Chana Block and Stephen Mitchell (Selections, 1992).  Dozen of its images latched my mind.  It remains one of my most useful resources for pre-’67 Israeli consciousness.

Tourists

1

Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel’s Tomb and Herzl’s Tomb
And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
And lust after our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool, blue bathrooms.

2

Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David’s Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. “You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head.” “But he’s moving, he’s moving!” I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, “You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.

Indeed, it would be Olam Ha-ba (“the world to come”) if guides and tourists peered down from admiring on the “must see” objects and instead sought to know the heart of the man carrying fruit home to his family.

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2 Responses to “Fruit of Israel”

  1. Dr. Ray Says:

    Speaking of fruit, the Lord in Heaven said in the Book of Zechariah 2:8 that Israel ‘. . . is the apple of His eye.’

    Christians obviously agree with Him and as to Foreign Aid from the USA I wish our nation would not give any money to Arabic nations because it is from these countries–come terrorists because they are anti-Judeo-Christian in their evil destructive ways.

    If Islam were true and it started when their alleged and only prophet spoke in between his life span of 570-632 A.D., why did not Allah have anything to say to humankind for 4,000 years before?

    Obviously, the true God of Jews and Christian did speak through multiple prophets who all concurred as to God’s thoughts because He spoke through his mighty men of God–the Old Testament prophets.

  2. Scott Says:

    Dr. Ray’s link seems to be dead. Are you still there, Dr. Ray? Thanks for the fruit reference, especially a Torah-based one. I’m sure you could have used many NT examples.

    Still, I think everything that follows is religio-political spam posing as a comment. I used “Fruit” to expand from the poem’s concrete reference (the poem itself an expansion of a event carrying fruit toward eternity) and hint that the this reflective/poetic process moves us toward riper, more whole (shalom) moments when conflict and mis-recognition and.

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