אודות המחבר
Yakov Azriel was born in New York and came to live in Israel after finishing his BA in English literature in Brooklyn College (summa cum laude) at the age of 21. When he came to Israel, he studied at Mercaz HaRav Kook for two years, and later on, completed an MA in Judaica, and in May 2004 he received his doctorate (on the stories of Rabbi Nachman of Braslav). He is presently a lecturer at Herzog College. He has published four full-length books of poetry: Threads From A Coat Of Many Colors: Poems on Genesis (2005); In The Shadow Of A Burning Bush: Poems on Exodus (2008); Beads For The Messiah's Bride: Poems on Leviticus (2009); and Swimming In Moses' Well: Poems on Numbers (2011), all published by Time Being Books, a literary press that specializes in poetry. Over 250 of his poems have been published in journals and magazines in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, and his poems have won eighteen different awards in international poetry competitions. In addition, Yakov has twice been awarded fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture for his poetry. Dr. Azriel can be contacted at: yakovaz@hotmail.com
A Poem for Parshat Hayei-Sarah
יעקב עזריאל
מרחשון תשע"ז
A WOMAN OF VALOR, WHO CAN FIND?
"And Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to lament Sarah, and to cry for her." (Genesis 23:2)


Forgive me, my wife,
For not having found a bride for our son,
For not having brought you the grandchildren you so much wanted to hold.
“First let the boy learn,
Let him study the sacred books
And dedicate himself to the service of the living God,”
You used to say,
And I listened to your voice.
You would spin wool in the corner of the tent
And watch us pore over the scrolls of the Law,
Now and then bringing us a piece of cake to eat;
“To give him strength to learn the words of the Lord,” you would say,
“Now taste the work of my hands — and see if it isn’t good.”
And you would rise while it was yet night
To prepare provisions for the household.

Forgive me, my wife,
Although we walked together all these years,
I was too embarrassed to walk with you hand-in-hand in public.
“It’s all right,” you would laugh,
“My hands are better at holding the spindle and the distaff.”

Forgive me, my wife,
For not sitting every evening with you as you lay sick in bed these past months,
Coughing and shivering.
I had my duty, you would tell me, to teach the people how to pray,
To command my household in the ways of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice.
“Go, it’s all right, they’re waiting,” you would say, and smile.
And I listened to your voice.
But as I left, I could hear your cough.
And the lamp in your tent did not go out all night.

Forgive me, my wife,
I argued with God to save the people of Sodom,
But I didn’t argue with Him about you.
Yet it was always your arm stretching out to the poor,
Your hands extended to the needy.

Forgive me, my wife,
For when we would sit at the Sabbath table on Friday nights,
I clad in scarlet wool
And the boy arrayed in fine linen and purple,
And I rose to chant: “A woman of valor, who can find?”
I never looked in your direction,
Never glanced at you even when I reached the verse:
“Many daughters have done valiantly, but you have excelled them all.”
You would just bend over and kiss the boy on his forehead.
And cough. Or was it a sigh?
And now, when I recite these verses to you over your grave,
The lamp in your tent has gone out,
And it is I who sighs.

Most of all I regret
Never having the courage
During all the years of our marriage
To say
‘I love you.’

Sarah. I’m sorry.