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with Jesus

Chaim Stern

'Tis a Fearful Thing

Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –

to be,
And oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,

And a holy thing, a holy thing
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.”

This poem is widely but wrongly attributed to the Jewish poet Yehudah Halevi (c. 1075–1141). In fact, the poem was written by the rabbi and Reform liturgist Chaim Stern (1930–2001), and is included as meditation #5 before the recitation of Kaddish in the Reform Prayerbook entitled Mishkan T'fillah: A Reform Siddur—Weekdays and Festivals (which could be translated as, A Dwelling Place of Prayer), page 330 [594]. The bracketed page reference is to the same meditation which appears in the companion prayerbook, Mishkan T'fillah: A Reform Siddur—Shabbat and Festivals.

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