EP&M Online Poetry



Robin Fox


Reflections on the Rabbi


The Rabbi we call Jesus (think instead
Of Yeshua ben-Yussef) did not claim
To be the Son of God; he simply said
We all are sons of God: that spreads the blame.

The scruffy rabbi with the dirty hair
Urged that we concentrate our minds upon
The prospect of the Kingdom, and repair
The damage to our souls that greed had done.

He trashed the gaudy temple of the self,
Leaving no place for piety to hide.
He made each giant ego seem an elf,
And shook his buttocks at the sons of pride.

Self-abnegation does not suit our age,
So we rewrite the gospel for the times
When every chorus boy wants center stage,
And poets seek to profit from their rhymes.

The angry rabbi with the scraggy beard
Expelled the merchants from the temple door;
But this was just a gesture (as we feared)
And so the merchants are in charge once more.

So when he told us “turn the other cheek,”
Did he mean it literally, we wonder?
When he gave earthly title to the meek,
Did that include petroleum rights thereunder?

The way – the televangelists seem to know –
To reap the profit and write off the loss,
Is, like each pious Christian CEO,
To nail our golden handshakes to the cross.

O earnest little rabbi by the lake,
Bless loaves and fishes so the hungry feed;
But don’t you understand, for goodness sake,
The trickle-down effect of private greed?

Our ingenuity is plain to see -
The Holy Church turned up the vital clue:
In reconciling God and Mammon we
Ignore your teaching, but we worship you.

We figure if we deafen you with praise
That you won’t notice if we deviate;
And do we really need you in these days
When rabbi Greenspan rules the interest rate?

The awkward little rabbi with the quiz,
No longer is around to pry and nod.
We render unto Ceasar what is his:
On Sunday mornings we can deal with God.

So we reject the tedious enterprise,
While in his tomb, bewildered by our plight,
The wounded rabbi hesitates to rise,
And we nail down the coffin, good and tight.

Robin Fox is a noted anthropologist, University Professor of Social Theory at Rutgers University.  He is the author of many books, including The Passionate Mind; The Red Lamp of Incest; The Tory Islanders; and The Imperial Animal (with Lionel Tiger).  His latest book is Participant Observer. 

"Reflections on the Rabbi "
copyright © 2006 by Robin Fox
and may not be reprinted or distributed without permission from the author.