The Poetry of Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon

The Poetry of Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon
A Myrtle in the Desert
(Translated by Daniel Farb)
Gefen Publishing / 102 pages

Although my interest in poetry hovers somewhere between minimal and non-existent, one cannot help from being taken aback by the poetry of Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon. 

Originally written in Hebrew, the volume “A Myrtle in the Desert” has been translated into English by Daniel Farb. (Rav Rimon wrote several other books of poetry, as well. Perhaps they too might be translated someday.) The primary themes of the poems in a “Myrtle in the Desert” are God, prayer, and the Land of Israel. The mystical world features prominently in these poems.

Born in Poland in 1889, Rav Rimon learned in the yeshiva of Rav Reines before making Aliyah at 20 years old. Rav Rimon wrote a style of poetry that although religious in nature --spiritual actually-- its words touched the religious and secular alike. From Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook to Bialik, everyone found meaning in his words, meaning which continues to be relevant today. The close relationship that Rav Rimon enjoyed with Rav Kook had a great influence in him and their writing styles are similar. His grandson and namesake, Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon, is a rabbi in Alon Shevut and a major halachic authority in the religious Zionist sector.

As poetry is not my genre, my brief comments on this work do not do it justice. As even the poetically illiterate me can tell, these poems are very special. They were written in a difficult era for the Jewish people and they bridge the events of fighting for independence from the British to the founding of the State of Israel. More than just poetry, this book is a piece of history.

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