Kinah/Lament for Yitzhak Rabin

Seventeen years ago Yitzhak Rabin, a warrior belatedly turned peacemaker, was assassinated. May his memory be for a blessing.  


Aryeh Cohen


The day after Yitzhak Rabin was killed

Moshe was remonstrating with God

This is truly Torah. Is this its reward?!

and again he felt faint sitting

in the back of Akiva’s study hall

looking over nine empty rows

bereft of students whose

master was martyred whose

flesh was parcelled

out in the market.

and God said they are turning

back the clock they are forcing

my hand they are running toward

an end that I didn’t intend to write

the benches are filled with those

whose texts are filled with dirt and

rocks. and Moshe, faint with the

hunger of unfulfilled desire

asks: is this the love of

Solomon, the holy of holies?

and Elishah saw the angel sitting

and Elishah saw the son dying

and Elishah turned on Rabbi Meir

“go find your Akiva now…”


The day after Rabin was killed

a young girl with innocent

hatred stared from behind

the fence around Daheishe

and I shuddered at her innocence

and at her hatred

and when the Temple burnt the

letters flew up to heaven

the stones fell and lodged in the earth

and now

we roll in the dirt and worship the stones

and cannot see the tears of young girls

and so moshe sputters amazed and angry

“Is this torah?” and “This is its reward.”


The day after Rabin was killed

three men gathered in a clearing

with a fresh parchment

prepared and scored

dipped a quill

in ancient ink

made of ash

and dirt

and wrote woe and mourning

sensing the dread that was


God sat on the side

in sackloth and smile

wondering what had changed

and in the central square in Gaza

messiah, unnoticed, changed his bandages one at

a time so that he wouldn’t miss the call.


On the day after Yitzhak Rabin was killed

I stood in the cool dark Lebanese night

shouting names of children, comrades

on this crusade, and waited

for the decree

A harried officer with tattered

forms and a memory

that would probably

give him no rest


as best he could




we woke with no memory

just the mark on our forehead

from the man in the flaxen robe

whose hired quill was in the

service of God.


The day after Rabin was killed,

purified by the mikvah I walked

the sandy smooth steps

of the Moslem Quarter

turning left then sharply right. i, pure

entered the Temple Mount through the gate

of the Chain. Turning right again

I, Pure, paced off the area of the

Holy of Holies.

the perfect Temple of the holy

books now forced upon the cold

stones of the Herodian plaza

as the Dome of the Rock faded into

invisibility i, pure, donned the vestments and

prepared the sacrifice to GodManofWar

slaughtering the ram catching the blood

sprinkling it on the altar as if without

intent, skinning the ram son of Isaac

removing the innards and the legs

bringing it near on to the altar

burning it so that the pleasant smell

might satiate the One of this Place

and then removing the vestments

and gathering the sins I rode off

on a goat to die on the rocky cliffs of Azazel.

On the day after Yitzhak Rabin was killed.

(July 24, 2007)



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