God's Tears("Good deeds" here is "ma'asim tovim," which is a pretty low-grade sort of good deed--not "mitzvot" or "tzedakah" or "g'milut chasadim." I wonder whether the translator should have gone with something like "handouts"? Lots of vexing issues in translation with these poems, which have the Yiddish on the facing pages; I'll take them up when I have a copy of the whole book in hand.)
God's tears like on the cheeks
of shamed, weak people.
Let me wipe away His lament.
He in whose veins there whirls
a quiet shudder before God,
let him kiss the nails of a pauper.
To the worm crushed under-foot,
God calls out "My holy martyr!"
The sins of the poor are more beautiful
than the good deeds of the rich.
It might be interesting to compare these poems, by the way, to the poems of Gershom Scholem, written in Jerusalem, in Hebrew, around the same time as Heschel was chugging away in Yiddish in Berlin. I'll be getting my copy of that one shortly, too. More then on the two of them! --E