Three Angels

March 5, 2016  

In March 2008, a terrorist entered the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva library in Jerusalem and murdered eight unarmed young students who sat there studying Torah. One of them was Yochai Lifshitz, Hy”d, whose grandmother wrote this poem for his yahrzeit. Written in Hebrew, it has been translated here for the first time.

R. Jose son of R. Judah said: Two ministering angels accompany man on the eve of the Sabbath from the synagogue to his home, one good and one evil. And when he arrives home and finds the lamp burning, the table laid and the couch covered with a spread, the good angel exclaims, ‘May it be even thus on another Sabbath,’ and the evil angel unwillingly responds ‘amen’. But if not, the evil angel exclaims, ‘May it be even thus on another Sabbath” and the good angel unwillingly responds, ‘amen’. (Tractate Shabbat 119b).

Three angels accompany

The father to his home on Shabbat

One good and one evil

And the third one –

How tall he is!

And they find the candles lit

And the table set

And a line of pain etched

On the mother’s forehead.

The third one sees

A portrait of himself

On the wall

That has not changed

Since the hour he was called to his Maker –

And his only chair

Is mute in its emptiness

And his kiddush cup on the shelf

Is alone and ashamed.

As the father sings to the angels

The third one cries

“Bless me my father

I must leave, the time has come”

And the mother keens

“Bless me my son

When will you come once again?”

But the third angel answers

“On the Shabbat we do not mourn

For our consolation is at hand…”

And the parents respond

“May it be so”

And the good and evil angels

Have no choice but to say


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