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Joseph Friedlander, comp. The Standard Book of Jewish Verse. 1917.

By Alice Lucas

The Commandment of Forgetfulness

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,

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,

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

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,

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

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.

Thus runs the Talmud tale! O God, may we

Thus evermore rejoice in serving Thee.