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The Rain That Become a Forest

Elegy of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. 

November 8, 2020.

First published at The Times of Israel.

With love to Lady Elaine, the children, the brother, and all the Sacks family and friends. 

Michael Rogatchi (C). Moses Hour. Dedicated to Lord Rabbi Sacks. Drawing on Inna Rogatchi’s authored print. Indian ink, oil pastel on cotton paper. 40 x 30 cm. 2019. Private collection of Rabbi Sacks and the family, London, the UK.

Rain, rain, rain, the rain of tears

Unwalled tears know no ceiling.

Rain, rain, rain, the rain of sighs

Bottomless sighs filling the air.

O soul of Ya’akov Zvi ben David Arieh z”l, 

You left the body of Jonathan Sacks 

On the early morning of Shabbes. 

It is a privilege that Creator grants

To His loved-ones.

The Shabbes of Parasha Vayeira, 

The nerve-knot of our Torah. 

The millions of us who were sunned 

Into Ya’akov Zvi brilliance, 

We were reminded that morning 

On the origination of Jewish people, 

With Creator giving our first Isaac to

To Abraham and Sarah. 

We were shamed in our Shabbes learning

By  the heights of lowliness of Sodom. 

We were following the first ever Jewish thriller 

Of the adventures of Lot, 

‘The first assimilated Jew’, as Rabbi Sacks

Has marked him for good. 

On that morning of November 7th, 2020, 

20th Marchesvan 5781, we were crying

The tears of anxiety and piety, re-reading

The story of highest possible – or impossible, really – 

Human devotion, the story of Akedah. 

Rain, rain, rain, the rain of tears. 

In the Torah, Sarah would die

In the next Parasha, Chayei Sarah, 

In the very beginning of it. 

In the course of events, however, 

Matriarch Sarah died 

At the time of Akedah. 

Very much at that climax of drama

On the Mount Moriah, 

When the devotion as a corn-stone

Of Jewish faith 

Has been tested on her only son

And her beloved husband. 

Sarah died at the very moment of Akedah

Being told by the Satan on what was really 

Happening there. 

Her heart did not sustain that Trial. 

The Torah has mercy on us

By telling about this tragedy in the next Parasha, 

In a week’s time, to let us all 

To have a breath, to take the drama  portioned. 

Rain, rain, rain, the rain of clouds, 

Sun makes you yet darker today, dear clouds, 

As we mourn the soul of Ya’akov Zvi

Flying off. 

Jonathan is to be buried today. 

In a week’s time the period of shiva for him

Will be over. 

But the hole in the common heart of millions

Will be not healed. 

Not in a week, not in a month, not in a year, 

Or thereafter. 

Rain, rain, rain, the rain of tears 

The rain that becomes a forest. 


With love to Lady Elaine, the children, the brother, the entire Sacks family, and his close friendsInna Rogatchi (C). The Flight of Thought I. Homage to Lord Rabbi Sacks. Lapice pastel, hand-applied pigment of light gold on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 40 x 50 cm. 2019. The Light of the First Day series. Jewish Mysticism project.

November 7-8th, 2020

Marchesvan 20-21, 5781