Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Pleading with Fate in Jerusalem (part 12)…by Robert M. Katzman

Pleading with Fate in Jerusalem

by Robert M Katzman © December 4, 2017


I tilted my head to the Western Wall

Trying to summon the words

Conjuring up Fate to listen to me

Surrendering to that which can’t be seen

But nevertheless



Why do you keep doing this?

You keep taking so many away

No one left to call and say:

Do you remember this perilous time?

When we traveled here?

When we stood our ground there?

Sharing our consequences, together?

Then holding hands across the miles


And so much cutting

The cutting never ends

Nearly forty surgeries

I’m more scar than flesh

I don’t understand

There must be reason to it

No reason will lead to madness


I pressed my uncertain face against

Ancient sand-colored stone blocks

Cool against my skin

Hard against my skin

Seeking to make a connection

Praying that the Western Wall

Of the Roman-destroyed Temple

Was not a barrier

But a portal


Thousands were assembled

Randomly around me

Some entirely in black

Tall black hats and white prayer shawls

Long curls running down their cheeks

Believing they were closer to God than I am

Except I think arrogance repels our Deity

I believe He sees beneath the trappings

Naked bodies all the same

At Auschwitz


The loud sound of prayers dimmed

I felt an eerie presence

There and not there

Maybe entirely within me

Appearing before my Mind’s Eye

Preparing to respond

Nothingness had a shape


A voice without sound

Spoke to me

Warm and distant

Cold with power

Something unearthly pausing

Something of unfathomable dimensions

Cosmic and final


I imagined a shroud

A hooded face

Lost in shadow

Floating and immovable

Focusing on my pain

Granting me reason

Reconsidering the original decision

A lifetime of silence


The voice said:

Long, long ago

Many were just like you

Born then bathed in radiation

Fated to die so young

Among all the millions who die each day

A decision was considered

Compensation for consequences

You were innocent

You were spared

But only just so


You were not more deserving

You were chosen at random

The poisoned others

Were worth no less than you

The Universe is demanding

Fate, myself, was assigned to you


Your surgeries would continue

But you would not die

Decade by decade

Through intense and repeating pain

You would acquire understanding

You would acquire compassion

You would realize responsibility

You would transmit hope

And our gift to you was Time


I listened to the silent sound

No longer aware of the Wall

Rushing to comprehend

Frightened I couldn’t

Reaching to grab the words

Close to my chest

Trying to hold onto air

Trying to understand


But, I pleaded with Fate:

You took so many

From me:

My grandparents

My aunts

My uncles

My parents

My cousins

My sister

My wife


You have left me alone without memory

The loneliness is drowning me

Why did they all have to die?


Then Fate unexpectedly replied

I never assumed

I was to be answered

Me, a mere speck in time

Not deserving

Something too intangible

To hold onto


And Fate replied:

You think Death is a punishment?

You think Life is a reward?

Cannot Death be a release?

Cannot Death be kindness?

Would you surrender your life

Now knowing what few ever know?

That you can give comfort to many

That no matter how awful

Another’s life may be

Yours will be always be worse

And they will see they’ve been spared

What might have come

To them


Having and losing

Were part of your greater plan

You would learn along the way

You could give comfort in person

Merely by showing up by a bedside

You will give comfort for centuries

Learning what you are

Now understanding

And writing it down

Because you are recording



Your responsibility is to offer

Uncomplicated hope

And that is why you have been spared

For now


I stopped still in my wondering

I stared at Fate

Who was not unkind

But whom I felt was moving on

There was warmth

There was purpose

There was an embrace

And my fear dissolved


Fate then said

Voice trailing behind him

Moving away somewhere from me

You have your children

You have your grandchildren

Perhaps another wife

Not for me to say

(But I could feel a smile in that)


You can leave your words for them

You still have many words to write

Before you join the others

One day, they too will understand

Maybe even why you were chosen

And that it wasn’t

Random indifference

But a way of seeking forgiveness

From the One who need not seek to forgive

From so many who died so young


Don’t be in a hurry yourself

The next place is forever

When it is decided

That Time will say to Death

For Fate to come back

For you


And then I understood

Like a sunrise in my mind

Shedding my long familiar fear







And that either

Together or separate

None of them

Was cruel



Contact: robertmkatzman@gmail.com


Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Kwanza!

Happy New Year!

So leave a comment below, already. It won’t kill you.


Driving in the Dark: Lost in Israel (part 1) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3736

Bob in Israel: Crusader Castle and The tunisian Synagogue (part 2)    https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3748

Joy’s Ashes in Israel: An Independent Woman (part 3) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3761

Marsha Michael, Who Solved My Problems in Israel (part 4) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3771

Tel Aviv, Israeli radio and Unexpected Art (part 5) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3796

Vad Yashem: Killing Millions of Children (part 6) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3811

Chicago man Watches Death of Samurais in Israel (part 7)//www.differentslants.com/?p=3846

Traveling Alone, Traveling Together (part 8) //www.differentslants.co/?p=3865

An American Jew’s Bold New Plan for a Sane, Peaceful and Prosperous State of Palestine (part 9) //www.differentslants.co/?p=3887

David’s Star in Israel (part 10) //www.differentslants.co/?p=3907

Sleeping With the Bedouins (part 11-a) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3962

Pleading with Fate in Jerusalem (part 12) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3980


Comment by Don Larson

December 4, 2017 @ 7:28 pm


“Uncomplicated Hope” is your essence.

Happy Hanukkah!


Comment by Herb Berman

December 4, 2017 @ 9:06 pm

Your life certainly hasn’t been easy, Bob. And yet you prevail somehow. I don’t know how you do it.

Comment by Charlie Newman

December 5, 2017 @ 2:09 pm

Pal…more important than commenting on your writing…prayers rise like smoke for the success of this surgery and a fast healing.

Comment by Jim Payne

December 5, 2017 @ 2:30 pm

May your surgery add to your understanding
May you be grateful for your riches
May you appreciate the friends supporting you
May you be proud of all you do
May we read the many more words you will write.

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