Is There a God in the Heavens? Hayyim Nahman Bialik’s Meditation on the Silence of the Divine in ‘On the Slaughter’
AbstractThe subject of this article is the haunting and now canonical ‘Al ha-shehitah’4 published in the magazine Hashiloach following the Hebrew poet Bialik’s visit to Kishinev, Bessarabia, in 1903 in the aftermath of the pogroms that raged in the Czarist Russian city, and that shocked the civilized world. Dispatched by the Jewish Historical Commission of Odessa to interview survivors and compile first-hand reports of the massacre, the thirty-five-year-old took some sixty photographs of the atrocities and filled four notebooks with testimonies. More than any other work, it is this poem that is fixed in the minds of most as the enduring image of the Kishinev pogrom. The work is part of Bialik’s ‘Poems of Wrath’ series, an unsettling and shockingly powerful bracket of pieces that led Maxim Gorky to label Bialik the modern Isaiah.
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Abramovich, D, Is There a God in the Heavens? Hayyim Nahman Bialik’s Meditation on the Silence of the Divine in ‘On the Slaughter’, Literature and Aesthetics, 2017, 27 (2), pp. 37 - 50 (14)