Rabbi Harold Reinhart, a Poem on the Scrolls


The Scrolls

On the Arrival at Westminster Synagogue Of the
Scrolls from Prague on 7th February, 1964

The following poem, by Rabbi Harold Reinhart, was published in the Westminster Synagogue Review for the month of May 1964.

At his memorial Service, Leo Bernard a member of the Synagogue Council said: “To the care and restoration of these scrolls, and their distribution to synagogues throughout the world, he devoted himself with love and humility. He was moved to the depths of his soul by the unthinkable tragedy which they had survived and by the beauty of the holiness which they symbolised. He would say to visitors …“No-one can see these without trembling”.

How few, how weak, how poor, to bear the weight,
Are we, the burden of this sanctity,
This tortured treasure, severally raped
By impious hands, midst agony and flame,
And piteous cry of millioned martyrdom.

A Scroll, the vessel of the Covenant,
Which, Heaven born, illuminates our life,
Is outraged by an accidental mar;
But these, though numberless indignities
Assailed them, these we humbly venerate.

Each sacred single member of this hoard,
Each separate record of our holy Law,
We hold more sanctified, in memory
Of streams of loving lives, the victims of
A fiendish madness, bestial butchery.

We gape, we rage, we tremble, and we weep,
And, in the darkness of the tragedy,
The ineluctable predicament
Of our mortality possesses us:
How few, how poor, how feeble, are we all!

This very grief, this yearning, witnesses
To that surviving spark of godliness
Which yet, despite, will not capitulate,
Will not despair, but still will reassert
The everlasting worth of life and love.

No words as eloquently could express,
In awe, the faith of true humanity,
As do this congregation of the Scrolls,
The mute avowal of the deathless Word,
The earthly mirror of eternal Truth.