Atar Hadari

About Atar Hadari

Atar Hadari’s “Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik” (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award, his debut collection “Rembrandt’s Bible” published by Indigo Dreams. His Pen Translates award winning “Lives of the Dead: Collected Poems of Hanoch Levin” is out now from Arc Publications.

About Komemiut

I found the story in the biography of the Chazon Ish in the chapters about his intervention in the Shmita controversy in Israel mid-twentieth century. It is from a letter by Rabbi Binyamin Mendelsohn, rabbi of Moshav Komemiut, from 5723, cited in The Jewish Observer in December 1979.


At the Yishuv in Komemiut

In 5717

The Jewish Agency planted orchards,

Twelve in the neighboring fields,

But the orchard in Komemiut

That was part of my inspection round

Was to be untended all next year

Under the Shmitah command.

I went round and I inspected,

The orchard people all round

Said the trees would not survive the ravages,

They were little saplings, not proud,

And I wondered how it would work out

For those trees and those farmer’s hands.

At the end of 5719 I went round

And the twelve all around were not bad

But the Komemiut orchard was extravagant,

Like the flowers had leaped on those arms,

There were oranges like a lorry load

Waiting to fall to the ground.

Now you tell me rabbi,

What exactly happens now?

Do we all keep this mishigas

Or does physics continue for those of us

Who only understand a plough?

I don’t mind but you tell me

What to tell to the lads.

They’re not bible-readers, they’re Bolsheviks,

Did they come here to find that God is a Commissar?

And He tells you what’s your land, what’s His and whose is what?

I don’t understand it your honour. You should have seen those flowers.