Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
The Commandment of Forgetfulness
By Alice Lucas
RABBI BEN ZADOK, o’er the sacred law
Bending with reverent joy, with sacred awe
Read the commandment: “When thy harvest yields
Its fruit and thou when reaping in the fields,
Dost there forget a sheaf of golden grain,        5
Fetch it not in to thee! It shall remain—
The poor, the stranger and the widow’s store
And the Lord God shall bless thee evermore.”
Rabbi ben Zadok closed the well-loved book,
And, gazing upward with a troubled look,        10
He said: “With joy do I obey, O Lord,
Each hest and precept of Thy holy word,
For which Thy name at morn and eve I bless.
But this commandment of forgetfulness
I have not yet performed as Thou hast willed        15
Since to remember leaves unfilled.”
So mused the Rabbi. But when autumn came,
And waves of corn glowed ’neath the sunset’s flame,
It chanced at evening, that, his labors o’er,
He stood and gazed upon his garnered, store,        20
And suddenly to him his little son
Came saying: “Father, see what thou hast done!
Three sheaves in yonder field I have espied
Forgotten!” “Oh!” the pious rabbi cried,
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord, whose gracious will        25
Enables me Thy bidding to fulfil,
Even through some oversight!” And with the day
Unto the house of God he took his way,
And offered of his flocks and herds the best,
For joy to have obeyed the Lord’s behest.        30
Thus runs the Talmud tale! O God, may we
Thus evermore rejoice in serving Thee.

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